Participation and association
The right to participation and association is closely linked to the right to freedom of expression: it allows expression as part of a collective, enables organising and campaigning for change, challenging the status quo, and participation in local/national democracy and inter-governmental fora. The ability to ensure diversity and pluralism in public debates, and therefore build a successful democracy, depends on people’s ability to express themselves, but also to choose the organisations or political affiliations they demonstrate participation though.
Legislation that restricts NGOs’ access to foreign funding, requires registration or permits to engage with foreign governments or IGOs, provides for travel bans/restrictions, or sets out onerous reporting requirements designed to prevent NGOs’ operations, are among the many ways governments around the world can seek to limit these rights and therefore avoid criticism or dissent. At their most extreme, they can see the designation of CSOs or social movements as “terrorist organisations”.
Equally, intimidation of political opposition and activists, dissolution of political parties, and judicial harassment of political leaders are serious issues that threaten political expression as well as association and participation, and can deny the public their right to participate in democratic processes and public debate.