The purpose of FOAA Online! is to provide easily accessible legal arguments to assist lawyers, activists and judges involved in freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of association (FOAA) cases. The site is organized per thematic topic or sub-question in order to direct users as straightforwardly as possible to relevant legal arguments. The FOAA Q&A assists users to link actual facts and incidents to pertinent legal questions. The website focuses on the most widespread issues experienced by those exercising their FOAA rights around the world.
The legal arguments in FOAA Online! are based upon a range of international instruments. In addition to legally binding obligations under international human rights law, they refer to standards and principles emanating from international treaty bodies, jurisprudence of regional courts and existing or emerging practice.. These include the findings of UN treaty bodies or of experts under the special procedures, as well as the jurisprudence of the Inter-American Court on Human Rights, the African Court on Human and People’s Rights and the European Court on Human Rights. Further, the reports of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights are included as well as guidelines and reports on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association emanating from the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the OSCE.
It is important to note that while some of these instruments or rulings may not be directly legally binding for a country, the findings and guidance provided by these instruments remain particularly relevant because of the similar wording used in all international instruments protecting these two rights.
We acknowledge that the materials presented are not geographically balanced, merely reflecting the fact that some mechanisms – notably the European Court of Human Rights – have decided more cases on FOAA than others. Note too that the materials do not offer a complete overview of the existing case-law; the objective has been to present a representative range of cases.
The UN Special Rapporteur is happy to add FOAA Online! to the freeassembly.net website before handing over his mandate on 1st of May 2017. He is grateful to the Open Society Justice Initiative for drafting the sections on freedom of peaceful assembly, and the American Bar Association, Justice Defenders Program for their contributions on the sections on freedom of association. As international law and jurisprudence and principles are continuously evolving, FOAA Online! will have to be updated over time. The UN Special Rapporteur vigorously encourages all actors involved not only to use the content of FOAA Online!, but also to spread the news about its existence so that the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association may be enjoyed and protected globally.