(Council of Europe) Freedom of association is a fundamental human right

It is protected as an individual’s fundamental human right by the European Convention on Human Rights and may only be subjected to restrictions “necessary in a democratic society. Freedom of association is also an important enabling factor to the enjoyment of other fundamental rights, notably freedom of expression and freedom of assembly.

A vibrant civic space is the bedrock of a genuine democracy

A trend toward restricting civic space, is increasingly impacting on the freedom of association and on civil society’s ability to fulfil its mission and fully participate in public life. This happens through national legislation reducing or complicating access to information, to resources, to public media or to decision-making processes by civil society and NGOs. It is a major concern for European democracies currently striving to increase connectivity and mutual trust between citizens and their democratic institutions.

  • The Council of Europe is uniquely placed to address this pan-European issue affecting human rights, democracy and the rule of law
  • The Council of Europe is uniquely placed to partner with governmental and non-governmental stakeholders
  • The Council of Europe is uniquely placed to bring the full scope of European norms, standards, best practices and expertise to bear on this issue

Strengthening Freedom of Association: a multilateral project to support an enabling environment for civil society in the Member States

The Project will:

  • Deliver well-researched substantive information and assessment of risks or threats to civil society (NGOs and INGOs);
  • Provide expert analysis of specific legislation, policy or practice in light of relevant CoE and international standards;
  • Propose legislative, policy or good practice solutions for the legal and practical challenges to the existence of free, open civic space;
  • Identify common challenges or trends over time and across geographical areas; and
  • Facilitate greater exchange and visibility of best practices in and between the Member States.

For all the information, visit the page.

Find the brochure of the project here.

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