18 June 2011

Right of assembly

This post about the right of assembly will be similarly short as the previous one about freedom of expression. I will less proceed from the Universal Declaration because it speaks about assembling and association only by two sentences in one article – I will therefore complete it with some other sentences created on the basis of other documents, namely of European states' constitutions.

My suggestion consist of four letters, the first of them quotes verbatim the first paragraph of the article 20 of the Universal Declaration which says that everybody has the right to peaceful assembly and association. But this sentence is too general and should be more specific.

The letter (b) of my suggestion reminds a provision of my previous text about freedom of expression: I wrote there that freedom of expression has to be sometimes restricted, I will write similarly about restriction of the right of assembly here. It is actually not about restriction of the right to assembly in itself but about putting conditions of holding public assemblies more precisely. If the letter (a) speaks about peaceful assembly, it is obvious that one of these conditions is maintaining public order and public security, it is moreover necessary to demand property not to be gratuitously destructed in public assemblies. These rules will come into their own in many public assemblies as various sports or cultural events and they will be effective also in assemblies of political character; abuse of these natural rules however threatens in their case (as we can see after all often also today in Europe), therefore I added the words “by fair principles” (i. e. the right can be restricted) to the possibility to restrict public assemblies – the fair principles are here to understand such principles that protect the society and are not intended as pretexts for foiling any public assembly by holders of public power (or maybe hidden economic power).

The letter (c) is expansion of the last word of the letter (a) and deals with possibilities of establishing associations. Everybody shall have a right to establish associations or join existing associations, without necessity to ask the public power for authorization as constitutions of many European states declare. Not every association can however be founded and exist, some of them can be a threat for other members of the society and for democratic arrangement of the society at all. These are in particular the associations that intend to achieve their purposes with help of weapons or associations that strive after elimination of democratic arrangement and its replacement of an authoritarian form. Establishing and existence of such associations must be denied by the European constitution.

The last letter of this brief constitutional text is based on the text of the Universal Declaration, on the second paragraph of its article 20 which says that nobody must not be compelled to be a member of any association. I added to it further a prohibition of forced participation in public assemblies.

The constitutional text of this article will be published in the end after all posts dealing with basic rights.