Front Page Forums Rights Right to peaceful assembly


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    The proposed right:

    No government shall deprive a person from peaceful assembly with others.


    People’s interactions together are the fabric of society. The right to get together peacefully is therefore declared explicitly. This does not mean that the government cannot regulate peaceful assemblies, but if any limits are enacted the government must ensure that they are necessary, reasonable, and fair to avoid violating this right. This right also applies to prisoners, although there may be additional regulations about prisoner assemblies within prisons and regarding outside visitors.


    According to the Oxford English Dictionary, assembly means “the action of gathering together as a group for a common purpose”. This could be a political purpose, such as a rally or protest, or it could be for entertainment, such as a concert or sporting event, or for business, or any other reason. As long as such assemblies are peaceful in nature, people shall not be deprived of the right to assemble.

    The requirement to be peaceful is important — if an assembly starts or becomes violent, then it is not covered by this right and the government would not be violating anyone’s rights by acting to disperse a violent assembly, in addition to protecting the people or property who are the targets of the violence.

    The right to peaceful assembly does not mean that government cannot regulate assemblies of people. The government may enact laws or regulations that limit how many people can safely occupy a building, or require a permit for public events in order to avoid a conflict wherein multiple groups attempt to assemble at the same place and time for different purposes, or to make other necessary arrangements in advance of an assembly such as notifying nearby businesses or residences and providing security.

    If a government enacts laws or regulations about assemblies, it must ensure that these are not discriminatory in nature, that the right to equal opportunity is not violated, that it is not depriving any particular group intentionally from peaceful assembly, and that at least some public spaces are available without reservation at reasonable times and which are near significant public spaces such as a government center or in nature such as parks or in community buildings, to facilitate a planned or spontaneous assembly. Without such available spaces, the people’s right to peaceful assembly is severely constrained. If a government regulates the use of all public spaces to deter or interfere with assemblies then it is violating the people’s right to peaceful assembly.

    If a large crowd gathers for what starts as a peaceful assembly, and then someone initiates violence, all the people who want to continue exercising their right to peaceful assembly should move away from the violence. This helps law enforcement discern who is being violent and who is being peaceful and focus their efforts on the violent people. It also helps restore peace to an assembly after such violence has started. If the people who initiated violence then try to return to the larger group, the people in the larger group should continue to create space between themselves and the re-entering violent people, to create a kind of separation bubble around them, and to demand for them to leave so that the rest of the group can continue their peaceful assembly. The right to peaceful assembly means that people who are peacefully assembled may deny entry to others who they know would try to initiate violence or disrupt, or already did initiate violence or disrupt, the peaceful assembly. Denying entry is merely standing in the way — if the unwelcome person attempting to enter initiates violence against the people denying entry, they can exercise their right of defense.

    Besides political assembly, the right to peaceful assembly is also the foundation for schools, concerts, plays, sports, religious gatherings, and more. People don’t need permission from the government for these because they have the right to peaceful assembly. However, the right to peaceful assembly does not allow people to ignore private property rights or to ignore regulations on reserving designated public spaces such as parks and cemeteries.

    Comparison with the United States:

    The First Amendment to the Constitution states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” The parts about peaceful assembly and petitioning the government are in the same fragment so it seems this amendment only protects peaceful protests. In contrast, the right to peaceful assembly in this proposal is broader and applies to any peaceful assembly including education, entertainment, sports, business, and so on.

    Comparison with the United Nations:

    Article 20.1 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights states “Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.”

    Article 23.4 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights states “Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.” This is an application of the right to peaceful assembly in which the topic of discussion is employment conditions.

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