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HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL BEGINS CLUSTERED INTERACTIVE DIALOGUE ON FREEDOM OF PEACEFUL ASSEMBLY AND ASSOCIATION, AND ON EDUCATION

6 June 2017

The Human Rights Council this afternoon began a clustered interactive dialogue with Annalisa Ciampi, Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, and with Koumbou Boly Barry, Special Rapporteur on the right to education.

Ms. Ciampi noted that she had only recently taken over the mandate, and reviewed actions taken by her immediate predecessor in the office, who had conducted official visits to eight countries, including the United Kingdom and the United States, the reports of which were before the Council.  Turning to her own preliminary thoughts about her future work, she said her vision was influenced by two factors, firstly that the mandate was a service, and secondly, that freedom of assembly and association were not absolute rights.  Constraints imposed on academic institutions were an issue of increasing concern in a number of countries.  The rights to freedom of assembly and of association in the digital sphere were also increasingly the subject of restrictive laws and policies. 

Ms. Boly Barry presented her thematic report on the realization of the right to education through non-formal education.  Today, some 263 million children, mostly girls, were out of school, and some 775 million adults in the world were illiterate.  What this meant was that one billion people in the world were deprived of the right to education.  Informal education was often defined by what it was not: not formal, not official and not recognized and, in many countries, was considered not good.  But this did not correspond to the reality.  The report presented by the Special Rapporteur provided another vision of informal education offered to those excluded from the formal education system.  The traditional paradigm of education must become more flexible to respond to the needs of millions of children and adult learners without compromising the minimum norms of quality established by the State. 

At the end of the meeting, Venezuela and the United States exercised their right of reply.

The Council will next meet at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, 7 June, to hold a general debate on the oral update of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, which he presented this morning.  It will then continue the clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteurs on the rights to freedom of assembly and of association, and on education, before holding a clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteurs on internally displaced persons and on extreme poverty.

Documentation

The Council has before it the Report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association (A/HRC/35/28).

The Council has before it an addendum to the Report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association - mission to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (A/HRC/35/28/Add.1).

The Council has before it an addendum to the Report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association - mission to the United States of America (A/HRC/35/28/Add.2).

The Council has before it an addendum to the Report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association - Observations on communications transmitted to Governments and replies received (A/HRC/35/28/Add.3).

The Council has before it the Report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to education (A/HRC/35/24).

The Council has before it an addendum to the Report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to education - mission to Chile (A/HRC/35/24/Add.1).

Statement by the Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association

ANNALISA CIAMPI, Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, noted that she had only recently taken over the mandate, and reviewed actions taken by her immediate predecessor in the office, Maina Kiai.  He had conducted official visits to eight countries, including the United Kingdom and the United States, the reports of which were before the Council.  A third report before the Council contained the former Special Rapporteur’s communications to national governments and replies received by Member States.  Turning to the thematic report, which was before the Council, she said it mapped and quantified the myriad ways in which civil society had improved societies globally in the past decade: protecting civil and political rights, advancing development objectives, moving societies towards freedom and equality, achieving and upholding peace, regulating corporate behaviour, protecting the environment, delivering essential services, and advocating for economic, social and cultural rights.  Turning to her own preliminary thoughts about her future work, she said her vision was influenced by two factors, firstly that the mandate was a service, and secondly, that freedom of assembly and association were not absolute rights.  Derogations were permitted if they were necessary for a number of public purposes, but the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association rested at the core of any functioning democratic system.

Turning to country visits, she said she would make sure that all Member States were given an opportunity to cooperate with the mandate.  Communications and press releases were formidable tools in the hands of mandate holders, and she said the media would be accessed whenever it was the case that drawing public attention to specific situations could improve on the protection of the freedoms of peaceful assembly and of association.  Regarding thematic reports, she would build upon the work already done, and would also follow up on resolution 32/32, which had invited the Special Rapporteur to consider addressing the topic of professional associations in the promotion and protection of human rights.  Constraints imposed on academic institutions were an issue of increasing concern in a number of countries.  The rights to freedom of assembly and of association in the digital sphere were also increasingly the subject of restrictive laws and policies.  Methodologically, she said she would work in close cooperation with the Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression and the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders.  When she presented her first report to the General Assembly and to the Council in her own name, she would spell out the priorities outlined as well as a concrete plan of action.

Statement by the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education

KOMBOU BOLY BARRY, Special Rapporteur on the right to education, presenting her thematic report on the realization of the right to education through non-formal education, said that learning throughout the life cycle, and especially the right to education, ensured that learners of all ages had permanent access to education.  Today, some 263 million children, mostly girls, were out of school, and some 775 million adults in the world were illiterate.  What this meant was that one billion people in the world were deprived of the right to education.  The report explored how informal education could contribute to the realization of the right to education.  Non-informal education programmes were often not favourably seen even though, by being learner-centred, they were more flexible and could improve school results.  Informal education was often defined by what it was not: not formal, not official and not recognized and, in many countries, was considered not good.  But this did not correspond to the reality and the report provided another vision of informal education offered to those excluded from the formal education system.  States had an obligation to address the situation of the 263 million children who were out of school today, but it would take years, even decades, before the universal access to education was achieved.  It was not acceptable to deprive another generation of children of their right to education. 

The traditional paradigm of education must become more flexible to respond to the needs of millions of children and adult learners without compromising the minimum norms of quality established by the State.  Flexible and adaptable programmes were needed in countries affected by armed conflict or natural disasters, and in many countries, the children that were out of school were poor children, children living in remote areas, who often worked for their families and could not go to schools that did not take account of the needs of farming and herding communities.  Informal education would be able to better respond to local constraints, and States must ensure that those programmes respected the norms and standards of the right to education, namely adequacy, accessibility, acceptability and adaptability.  Sustainable and predictable financing must be provided to enable civil society to build their capacities and States must respect the obligation to allocate at least three per cent of their budgets to education.  Primary and secondary school obligations must be offered free of charge, and an investment must be made into data collection, said Ms. Boly Barry.  The report on the visit of the previous Special Rapporteur to Chile examined the ongoing reform that aimed to dismantle market-based conditions, which led to a highly segregated and discriminatory educational system, and which aimed to recognize the right to education as a universal right rather that a product to sell and buy.

Right of Reply

Venezuela, speaking in a right of reply in response to the statement by the United States this morning, said the representative of the most interventionist empire once more undermined the homeland of Simon Bolivar, which was free and did not seek domination.  The United States sought to remove Venezuela from the Council, although this was the second consecutive period that Venezuela was spending as an elected Member, with most countries recognizing Venezuela’s journey in promoting and protecting human rights.  The United States empire had destroyed entire peoples, using torture and arbitrary detention in illegal centres, and yet it was pronouncing against Venezuela, where human rights and fundamental freedoms were freely enjoyed.  The coup d’Etat in Venezuela and other nations always had a common denominator, the support of the Government of the United States, which had no moral authority to set itself as a universal judge on human rights. 
 
United States, speaking in a right of reply in response to the remarks made by the representative of Venezuela, thanked Venezuela for providing some levity in this meeting by claiming that the citizens of Venezuela enjoyed all their human rights.  However, the right of reply of Venezuela had nothing to do with the Special Rapporteur’s report.



For use of the information media; not an official record

HRC17/074E