Freedom House Applauds the OAS Resolution on Freedom of Association | Freedom House

Freedom House Applauds the OAS Resolution on Freedom of Association

Washington

Freedom House welcomes the decision taken by members of the Organization of American States (OAS) to adopt a resolution on freedom of association that recognizes the importance of respecting this fundamental right for democracy. The resolution was passed on June 8 by all 34 states of the Organization of American States (OAS), in its 41st OAS General Assembly held in El Salvador. This is the first time that Latin American states have formally addressed the issue of freedom of association in the region.

In the resolution, Member States commit to promote and encourage various forms of citizen participation in decision-making processes and to protect and respect the rights of peaceful assembly and free association, in accordance with international human rights law.

“The adoption of this resolution on freedom of association is a significant step amid mounting legal and administrative restrictions for civil society organizations in several countries in the region,” said Viviana Giacaman, senior program manager for Latin America at Freedom House. “From now on, civil society organizations will have a tool to monitor government action and demand compliance with freedom of association standards.”

In the past few years, at least eight Latin American governments have considered or enacted legal or administrative measures to restrict the activities of civil society organizations. In most cases, these measures allowed governments to use discretion in approving registration of NGOs, grant public officials overreaching oversight powers over NGO activities and limit international funding. In addition, many governments tolerate and incite a public opinion climate that is hostile to NGOs by issuing public statements that denigrate, insult and question the work of civil society organizations and their leaders. As a result, direct attacks and intimidation to civil society organizations have become increasingly common in countries such as Bolivia, Colombia, Honduras, Nicaragua and Venezuela. 

Freedom House congratulates the countries of the OAS that pushed for the adoption of this crucial text, and urges the OAS to continue to facilitate the implementation of laws and public policies that respect the right of association and assembly, according to international human rights standards. Finally, Freedom House recognizes the important advocacy work carried out by civil society organizations, which from the beginning have advocated for the adoption of the resolution at the local and international level.

For more information on Latin America, visit:

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Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.

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