Half-Day General Discussion in preparation for a General Comment on Article 21 (Right of Peaceful Assembly) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Palais Wilson, 20 March 2019

On the occasion of its 125th session, to be held in Geneva from 4 to 29 March 2019, the Human Rights Committee will hold a half day of general discussion in preparation for a General Comment on Article 21 (Right of Peaceful Assembly) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights:

Article 21

The right of peaceful assembly shall be recognized. No restrictions may be placed on the exercise of this right other than those imposed in conformity with the law and which are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, public order (ordre public), the protection of public health or morals or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

Object and purpose of the half-day of general discussion

The purpose of the general discussion is to commence the Committee’s process of developing a General Comment on article 21, in light of the Committee’s experience obtained in the review of State reports and communications on this right. The aim of the General Comment is to provide appropriate and authoritative guidance to States Parties and other actors on the measures to be adopted to ensure full compliance with the rights protected under this provision. 


The Committee designated Christof Heyns as the Rapporteur for the drafting of the General Comment. A note has been prepared by the Rapporteur for the half-day of general discussion. It includes a list of questions which is illustrative and not exhaustive. It reflects some of the main aspects which the Rapporteur plans to cover in the first draft of the General Comment. Stakeholders are invited to draw attention to aspects not listed in the note.

Date and venue

The half-day discussion will take place in a plenary meeting of the Committee at the Palais Wilson, 20 March 2019, Geneva, from 10 to 13 hrs. The discussion will be webcast.


The Human Rights Committee invites National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs), members of civil society, academia and international organizations to participate. Interpretation will be provided in all UN official languages, i.e. Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish.

Written Contributions

Those  wishing to submit written contributions are welcome to do so. Submissions should be sent electronically in Word format to the Secretariat ( indicating "Half-Day General Discussion on Article 21” as the subject by 11 March 2019.

Documents may be submitted in English, French or Spanish. Please note that written contributions will not be translated by OHCHR. As most Committee members use English as their working language, documents submitted in French and Spanish should, to the extent possible, be translated into English.

Written contributions, assuming they arrive in the Secretariat by the deadline provided, will be posted on the website for the half-day of general discussion.


Those wishing to participate orally should inform the Secretariat ( by 4 March 2019, after which date time for presentations will be allocated. Those who have provided written contributions in advance will be given priority for oral presentations.

Those that are unable to come to Geneva may send pre-recorded video messages (two minutes maximum) along with the transcript of the text message.

Following the presentations, Committee members will have an opportunity to ask questions of and receive responses from the presenters. If time remains, there will be a further opportunity for comments by participants.


Following the discussion, the Rapporteur will produce a draft of the General Comment which will be presented to the Committee for a first reading in a closed meeting during its July session. The text resulting from the first reading will be made public, on the Human Rights Committee’s webpage, for comments by all interested parties, including States, before the second reading.


Please register using the UNOG platform by 4 March 2019.


Written contributions:

  1. Privacy International
  2. The Equal Education Law Centre (EELC)
  3. Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights
  4. Espacio Público (in English and Spanish)
  5. The City of Amsterdam
  6. Open Society Justice Initiative and Committee on the Administration of Justice
  7. Netherlands Helsinki Committee
  8. Clément Nyaletsossi Voule, UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association
  9. Demacratic Party (Hong Kong SR)
  10. Demosisto
  11. Center for Human Rights
  12. World Movement for Democracy
  13. Hong Kong UPR Coalition
  14. Hong Kong NGOs
  15. International Institute for Nonviolent Action (NOVACT)
  16. International Center for Not-For-Profit Law (ICNL) and European Center for Not-For-Profit Law (ECNL)
  17. The Platform
  18. The Carter Center
  19. DanChurchAid
  20. Green Peace International
  21. Human Rights House Foundation
  22. Human Rights Center "Memorial" and OVD-Info
  23. International Network of Civil Liberties Organizations (INCLO)
  24. Neil Jarman
  25. CRDH-Université Panthéon- Assas Paris II
  26. Trade Unions
  27. Chut Shel Chessed
  28. Consortium for Street Children
  29. Comisión de Derechos Humanos del Distrito Federal (CDHDF)
  30. International Observers Network
  31. Sexual Rights Initiative (SRI)
  32. ARTICLE 19, México and Centroamérica
  33. International Sevice for Human Rights (ISHR)
  34. Amnesty International
  35. OHCHR – Civic Space Unit and Rule of Law Democracy Unit
  36. ARTICLE 19
  37. MENA Rights Group
  38. Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines
  39. Michael Hamilton
  41. Natallia Satsunkevich
  42. OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR)
  43. Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS)
Country-specific information