UNSR Report: FoAA in Digital Space

June 12, 2019

On June 12, 2019, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Assembly and Association, Clement Voule, published a report discussing the effects that digital technologies have had on the freedoms of peaceful assembly and association. According to the report, digital technologies such as social media platforms and artificial intelligence have created new spaces for individuals and civil society organizations (CSOs) to exercise their rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, but have also provided states and malicious third-party actors with powerful tools to restrict those rights.

The report emphasizes that “international law protects the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, whether exercised in person, through technologies of today, or through technologies that will be invented in the future.” As such, states, digital technology companies, and civil society actors must all work together to preserve the freedom of peaceful assembly and of association online. The report highlights several case studies in which digital tools expand the capacity of CSOs to exercise their rights, but also points out the rising trend in cyber-crime laws, anti-terrorism laws, or surveillance laws, among others, that arbitrarily criminalize access to and use of digital tools. Special Rapporteur Voule recommends that states and digital technology companies adopt high-level policy commitments to respect freedom of peaceful assembly and association online. Read the full report here.

Through the Civic Space Initiative, the World Movement–along with partners at ICNL, Article 19, and CIVICUS–supports the work of Rapporteur Voule by connecting him with civil society voices. Learn more about the Civic Space Initiative here.