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UN rights panel to appoint expert on freedom of expression, assembly

The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official website] adopted resolutions [press release] Thursday establishing the mandate of a Special Rapporteur for freedom of association and assembly. The Special Rapporteur will be responsible for reporting on how nations promote freedom of association and peaceful assembly during a three-year period. In adopting the resolution, the UNHRC urged all nations to respect the right to assemble, engage in peaceful protest and freely associate. Each year, the Special Rapporteur will submit a report to the UNHRC and the UN General assembly regarding the areas relating to the mandate. US Representative to the UNHRC Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe [profile] underlined the US' strong support for the measure and noted that "peaceful assembly was a basic pillar of functional democracy."

Several countries have recently faced criticism for limiting the rights of expression and assembly. Last week, Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] urged [press release] the government of Myanmar to release all political prisoners [JURIST report] ahead of the nation's November elections—the first to be held in 20 years. Detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], whose detention has drawn strong criticism from the UN and other rights groups, is among the most well-known of Myanmar's political prisoners. In April, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] encouraged [JURIST report] the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) [official website, in Arabic; GlobalSecurity backgrounder] states to address continuing rights issues[press release], including women's rights, treatment of migrant workers, statelessness, and freedoms of expression, association, and assembly.

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