GE.18-11658(E)

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Human Rights Council Thirty-eighth session

18 June–6 July 2018

Agenda item 3

Resolution adopted by the Human Rights Council on 6 July 2018

38/11. The promotion and protection of human rights in the context of

peaceful protests

The Human Rights Council,

Reaffirming the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations,

Reaffirming also the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and recalling relevant

international human rights treaties, including the International Covenant on Civil and

Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights,

and other relevant regional human rights instruments,

Recalling the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action,

Recalling also the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals,

Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human

Rights and Fundamental Freedoms,

Reaffirming that, consistent with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, States

Members of the United Nations have pledged to achieve, in cooperation with the United

Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and

fundamental freedoms for all without distinction such as race, colour, sex, language,

religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status,

Recalling its decision 17/120 of 17 June 2011 and its resolutions 19/35 of 23 March

2012, 22/10 of 21 March 2013, 25/38 of 28 March 2014 and 31/37 of 24 March 2016 on the

promotion and protection of human rights in the context of peaceful protests, and other

relevant resolutions of the Human Rights Council,

Recognizing that, pursuant to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Convention on

the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the rights to freedom of peaceful

assembly, of expression and of association are human rights guaranteed to all, while their

exercise may be subject to certain restrictions, in accordance with States’ obligations under

applicable international human rights instruments,

Recognizing also that any such restrictions must be based in law, and be necessary

and proportionate to further a legitimate aim, in accordance with the State’s obligations

under applicable international human rights instruments, and that, if imposed,

United Nations A/HRC/RES/38/11

administrative or judicial review that is prompt, competent, independent and impartial

should be available,

Recalling that States have the primary responsibility for the promotion and

protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, including in the context of

assemblies such as peaceful protests, and to ensure that national legislation, policies and

practices, as the national framework for the exercise of the rights to freedom of peaceful

assembly, of expression and of association, are in compliance with international human

rights law,

Noting that the proper management of assemblies involves and can have an impact

on respect for human rights before, during and after an assembly, and aims to contribute to

its peaceful conduct and to prevent injuries to and loss of life of protesters, those

monitoring such protests, bystanders and officials exercising law enforcement duties,

Acknowledging that peaceful protests may occur in all societies, including protests

that are spontaneous, simultaneous, unauthorized or restricted,

Acknowledging also that participation in peaceful protests can be an important form

of exercising the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, of expression, of association and

of participation in the conduct of public affairs,

Recognizing that peaceful protests can make a positive contribution to the

development, strengthening and effectiveness of democratic systems and to democratic

processes, including elections and referendums,

Recognizing also that peaceful protests have historically played a constructive social

and political role in the development of more just and accountable societies, and that such

protests can continue to make a positive contribution to human development,

Acknowledging that peaceful protests can contribute to the full enjoyment of civil,

political, economic, social and cultural rights,

Reaffirming that everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person,

Reaffirming also that participation in public and peaceful protests should be entirely

voluntary and uncoerced,

Stressing therefore that everyone, including persons espousing minority or

dissenting views or beliefs, must be able to express their grievances or aspirations in a

peaceful manner, including through public protests, without fear of reprisal or of being

intimidated, harassed, injured, sexually assaulted, beaten, arbitrarily arrested and detained,

tortured, killed or subjected to enforced disappearance,

Deeply concerned about extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, and torture

and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of persons exercising their

rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, of expression and of association in all regions of

the world,

Concerned about the emerging trend of disinformation and of undue restrictions

preventing Internet users from having access to or disseminating information at key

political moments, with an impact on the ability to organize and conduct assemblies,

Noting that the possibility of using communications technology securely and

privately, in accordance with international human rights law, is important for the

organization and conduct of assemblies,

Noting also that, although an assembly has generally been understood as a physical

gathering of people, human rights protections, including for the rights to freedom of

peaceful assembly, of expression and of association, may apply to analogous interactions

taking place online,

Recalling the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, of expression and of

association, which encompass organizing, participating, observing, monitoring and

recording assemblies,

Expressing its concern at the criminalization, in all parts of the world, of individuals

and groups solely for having organized, taken part in or observed, monitored or recorded

peaceful protests,

Stressing that peaceful protests should not be viewed as a threat, and therefore

encouraging all States to engage in an open, inclusive and meaningful dialogue when

dealing with peaceful protests and their causes,

Recalling that isolated acts of violence committed by others in the course of a

protest do not deprive peaceful individuals of their rights to freedom of peaceful assembly,

of expression and of association,

Bearing in mind that assemblies can be facilitated on the basis of communication

and collaboration among organizers, protesters, local authorities and officials exercising

law enforcement duties,

Recognizing that national human rights institutions and representatives of civil

society, including non-governmental organizations, can play a useful role in facilitating

continued dialogue between individuals taking part in peaceful protests and the relevant

authorities,

Stressing the need to ensure full accountability for human rights violations or abuses

in the context of peaceful protests,

Recalling the Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials and the Basic

Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials,

Encouraging all States to make appropriate use of the Resource book on the use of

force and firearms in law enforcement published by the Office of the United Nations High

Commissioner for Human Rights and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, and

the updated training package of the Office of the High Commissioner on human rights law

and law enforcement,

Recalling the importance of adequate training for officials exercising law

enforcement duties assigned to the management of assemblies, and of refraining, to the

extent feasible, from assigning military personnel to perform such duties,

1. Recalls that States have the responsibility, including in the context of

peaceful protests, to promote and protect human rights and to prevent human rights

violations and abuses, including extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, arbitrary

arrest and detention, enforced disappearances and torture and other cruel, inhuman or

degrading treatment or punishment, and calls upon States to avoid the abuse of criminal and

civil proceedings, or threats of such acts at all times;

2. Calls upon States to promote a safe and enabling environment for individuals

and groups to exercise their rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, of expression and of

association, including by ensuring that domestic legislation and procedures relating to the

rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, of expression and of association are in conformity

with their international human rights obligations and commitments, to clearly and explicitly

establish a presumption in favour of the exercise of these rights, and that they are

effectively implemented;

3. Encourages all States to give due consideration to the compilation of

practical recommendations for the proper management of assemblies based on best

practices and lessons learned,1 which provides a useful tool for States on how to fulfil their

obligations and commitments, including on how to operationalize them in their domestic

laws, procedures and practices, and to promote and protect human rights in the context of

assemblies, including peaceful protests;

4. Calls upon States to facilitate peaceful protests by providing protestors, to the

extent possible, with access to public space within sight and sound of their intended target

1 See A/HRC/31/66.

audience, and by protecting them, without discrimination, where necessary, against any

form of threat or harassment, and underlines the role of local authorities in this regard;

5. Underlines the important role that communication between organizers,

protestors, local authorities and officials exercising law enforcement duties can play in the

proper management of assemblies, such as peaceful protests, and calls upon States to

establish such appropriate channels;

6. Urges States to pay particular attention to the safety and protection of women

and women human rights defenders from acts of intimidation and harassment, as well as

gender-based violence, including sexual assault, in the context of peaceful protests;

7. Reaffirms that States must take all appropriate measures for the safety and

protection of children, including while they exercise their rights to freedom of peaceful

assembly, of expression and of association, including in the context of peaceful protests;

8. Calls upon all States to pay particular attention to the safety of journalists and

media workers observing, monitoring and recording peaceful protests, taking into account

their specific role, exposure and vulnerability;

9. Also calls upon all States to refrain from and cease measures, when in

violation of international human rights law, seeking to block Internet users from gaining

access to or disseminating information online;

10. Urges all States to avoid using force during peaceful protests, to ensure that,

where force is absolutely necessary, no one is subject to excessive or indiscriminate use of

force, and also to ensure that assistance and medical aid are rendered to any injured or

affected person at the earliest possible moment;

11. Calls upon States, as a matter of priority, to ensure that their domestic

legislation and procedures are consistent with their international obligations and

commitments in relation to the use of force in the context of law enforcement and are

effectively implemented by officials exercising law enforcement duties, in particular,

applicable principles of law enforcement, such as necessity and proportionality, bearing in

mind that lethal force may only be used as a last resort to protect against an imminent threat

to life and that it may not be used merely to disperse a gathering;

12. Affirms that nothing can ever justify the indiscriminate use of lethal force

against a crowd, which is unlawful under international human rights law;

13. Calls upon States to investigate any death or significant injury, including

those that lead to disability, incurred during protests, including those resulting from the

discharge of firearms or the use of less-lethal weapons by officials exercising law

enforcement duties or by private personnel acting on behalf of the State;

14. Also calls upon States to ensure adequate training of officials exercising law

enforcement duties and, where applicable, to promote adequate training for private

personnel acting on behalf of the State, including in international human rights law and,

where appropriate, international humanitarian law, and in this regard urges States to include

in such training the application of de-escalation strategies;

15. Encourages States to make appropriate protective equipment and less-lethal

weapons available to their officials exercising law enforcement duties in order to decrease

their need to use weapons of any kind, while pursuing efforts to regulate and establish

protocols for the training and use of less-lethal weapons, bearing in mind that even less-

lethal weapons can result in a risk to life;

16. Underlines the importance of thorough and independent testing of less-lethal

weapons prior to procurement and deployment to establish their lethality and the extent of

likely injury, and of monitoring appropriate training and use of such weapons;

17. Stresses the importance of international cooperation in support of national

efforts for the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the

context of assemblies, including peaceful protests, in order to raise the capacities of law

enforcement agencies to deal with such assemblies in a manner that conforms to

international human rights law and standards;

18. Underlines the necessity to address the management of assemblies, including

peaceful protests, so as to contribute to their peaceful conduct, and to prevent injuries,

including those that lead to disability, and loss of life of protestors, those observing,

monitoring and recording such assemblies, bystanders, and officials exercising law

enforcement duties, as well as any human rights violation or abuse, to ensure accountability

for such violations and abuses and to provide victims with access to a remedy and redress;

19. Recognizes the importance of documenting human rights violations and

abuses committed in the context of peaceful protests, and the role that can be played by

national human rights institutions, civil society, including non-governmental organizations,

journalists and other media workers, Internet users and human rights defenders, in this

regard;

20. Urges States to ensure accountability for human rights violations and abuses

through judicial or other national mechanisms, based on law and in conformity with their

international human rights obligations and commitments, and to provide all victims with

access to a remedy and redress, including in the context of peaceful protests;

21. Requests the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to

prepare a thematic report on new technologies, including information and communications

technology, and their impact on the promotion and protection of human rights in the context

of assemblies, including peaceful protests, and to submit it to the Human Rights Council

prior to its forty-fourth session;

22. Also requests the High Commissioner, in preparing the thematic report, to

draw from the experience of treaty bodies and to seek the views of States and relevant

partners, such as United Nations agencies, regional organizations, national human rights

institutions, civil society organizations and relevant special procedure mandate holders;

23. Decides to continue its consideration of this topic and next steps at its forty-

fourth session under agenda item 3.

38th meeting

6 July 2018

[Adopted without a vote.]