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Regular version of the site

Guidelines on Freedom of Peaceful Assembly

Guidelines on Freedom of Peaceful Assembly prepared by the OSCE/ODIHR Panel of Experts on The Freedom of Assembly, including Nina Belyaeva, Head of the HSE Department of Public Policy, were published by the OSCE

Introduction and Part I

Full text at the OSCE website

Guidelines on Freedom of Peaceful Assembly (2nd  edition)

Published by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights
(ODIHR), Warsaw, 2010. ISBN 978-92-9234-785-7

Second Edition of the Guidelines on Freedom of Peaceful Assembly has been
revised by the OSCE/ODIHR Panel of Experts on the Freedom of Assembly,
incorporating the necessary updates, interpretations and practical
guidelines on respecting freedom of assembly. These Guidelines set the
minimal standards for Freedom of Assembly legislation and practice in the
OSCE member states.

This publication can be useful for lawyers, political scientists, human
rights experts, for those interested in human rights, civic freedoms,
freedom of assembly, OSCE/ODIHR, local governance and state administration.

Prepared by the OSCE/ODIHR Panel of Experts on The Freedom of Assembly 


Thomas BULL 





Serghei OSTAF



Yevgeniy A. ZHOVTIS

And by the Council Of Europe’s European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission)


Table of Contents





SECTION A. Guidelines on the Freedom of Peaceful Assembly


1. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly

1.1 Freedom of peaceful assembly

1.2 Definition of assembly

1.3 Only peaceful assemblies are protected


2. Guiding Principles

2.1 The presumption in favour of holding assemblies

2.2 The state’s positive obligation to facilitate and protect peaceful assembly

2.3 Legality

2.4 Proportionality

2.5 Non-discrimination

2.6 Good administration

2.7 The liability of the regulatory authority


3. Restrictions on Freedom of Assembly 

3.1 Legitimate grounds for restriction

3.2 Public space

3.3 Content-based restrictions

3.4 “Time, place and manner” restrictions

3.5 “Sight and sound”


4. Procedural Issues

4.1 Notification

4.2 Spontaneous assemblies

4.3 Simultaneous assemblies

4.4 Counter-demonstrations

4.5 Decision-making

4.6 Review and appeal


5. Implementing Freedom of Peaceful Assembly Legislation

5.1 Pre-event planning with law-enforcement officials

5.2 Costs

5.3 A human rights approach to policing assemblies

5.4 The use of negotiation and/or mediation to de-escalate conflict

5.5 The use of force

5.6 The liability and accountability of law-enforcement personnel

5.7 The liability of organizers

5.8 Stewarding assemblies

5.9 Monitors

5.10 Media access


SECTION B. Explanatory Notes


1. The Importance of Freedom of Assembly


2. The Regulation of Freedom of Peaceful Assembly

                The legal framework

                               International and regional standards 

                               Regulating freedom of assembly in domestic law

Freedom of assembly in the context of other human rights and freedoms

Principal definitions and categories of assembly

Peaceful and non-peaceful assemblies


3. Guiding Principles

The presumption in favour of holding assemblies

The state’s duty to protect peaceful assembly




                               Groups, unregistered associations and legal entities





                               Persons with disabilities

                               Law-enforcement personnel and state officials

Good administration and transparent decision-making

Review and appeal

The liability of the regulatory authority


4. Restrictions on Freedom of Assembly

Legitimate grounds for restriction

Public order

Public safety

The protection of health 

The protection of morals

The protection of the rights and freedoms of others 

National security

Legislation intended to counter terrorism and extremism

Derogations in times of war or other public emergency 

Types of restriction

Content-based restrictions

“Time, place and Manner” restrictions

“Sight and sound”

Restrictions imposed prior to an assembly (“prior restraints”)

                                               Freedom of association and freedom of peaceful assembly

                                               Indirect restrictions on freedom of assembly

Restrictions imposed during an assembly

Sanctions and penalties imposed after an assembly



5. Procedural Issues

Advance notification

Notification, not authorization

Simultaneous assemblies 



Exceptions from the notification process

 Spontaneous assemblies

Decision-making and review processes


Part II - Implementing Freedom of Peaceful Assembly legislation




6. Policing Public Assemblies

A human rights approach to policing


Policing assemblies – general principles of good practice

Use of force

Liability and accountability


7. Responsibilities of the Organizer 

The organizer

Ensuring the peaceful nature of an assembly – principles of good practice

Stewarding assemblies



8. Monitoring Freedom of Peaceful Assembly

Independent monitors



Annex A – Enforcement of international human rights standards

Annex B – Cases cited 

Annex C – English-Russian Glossary of Terms 

Annex D – Expert Panel Composition


See also:

Sergey Karaganov Is Appointed to the Panel of Eminent Persons on European Security as a Common Project

Chairman of the OSCE, Switzerland’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Didier Burkhalter  proposed that Sergey A. Karaganov, Dean of HSE’s Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs and Honorable Chairman of the Presidium of the Council for Foreign and Defence Policy, should be included in the High-level Panel of Eminent Persons on European Security as a Common Project. The Panel’s first working meeting will be at the Munich Security Conference in February this year.