#FOAAat50: Celebrating a half-century of assembly and association rights through art, social media and a yearlong party

Feb 10 2016

ICCPR Art. 21 protest poster collage_500(Españolfrançais中文)

We’re now well into the second month 2016 (and two days into the Year of the Monkey), but there has been surprisingly little buzz surrounding one of the year’s most important anniversaries: The world’s core international human rights treaties are turning 50.

That’s a disappointing situation – and we’d like your help in trying to fix it.

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) were both adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 16, 1966. The ICCPR, of course, enshrines the international rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association in articles 21 and 22, respectively. The ICESCR, protects the right to form trade unions and to strike. Together, these instruments create the legal backbone of the Special Rapporteur’s mandate.

It was a long road to adoption and ratification, and we’re still not there yet (as United Nations data shows, 29 states are still not party to the ICCPR, while 33 are not party to the ICESCR). Implementation has also been imperfect, no doubt. But the ICCPR and ICESCR – together with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – represent the most ambitious and collaborative attempts at defining and upholding human rights in human history. And however flawed this endeavor has been thus far, the rights enshrined in the ICCPR and ICESCR have undoubtedly inspired hundreds of millions of people.

We think this is something worth celebrating.

To that end, we’re launching a campaign to help breathe some life into this birthday party. We’re dubbing it #FOAAat50, and we’d like you to take part by doing three simple things: Creating, celebrating and sharing.

What do we mean?

Create. The concept is simple – make something that expresses what the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association mean to you.

We’re starting things off today with a poster we created to mark 50 years of Article 21 of the ICCPR, the right to freedom of peaceful assembly. It’s got a retro feel with a nod to all of the great protest posters that have come since that momentous day in 1966. Like it? Then download it here and share it on Facebook or Twitter. Really like it? Then download the big 14 MB version here and do some large-format prints to stick on your wall or give to your friends.

The poster is also available in the following languages: français (large/small) • Español (large/small) • Nederlands (large/small) • ру́сский язы́к (large/small) • 한국어 (large/small) • العَرَبِية‎ (large/small) • ភាសាខ្មែរ (large/small) • 中文 (large/small)

There are more of these coming from our side, which we’ll be rolling out through December 16, 2016. But we can’t do this alone. So get out there and make your own posters, photographs or artwork – anything really.

And it’s no excuse to say you lack artistic skills: Send us your ideas instead, and we’ll try to put them into action. Send us your translations of posters we’ve already done. Or simply tell a friend. You’ve got 10 months, so get to it!

Celebrate: What better way to mark this anniversary than to use your rights? Get out there and join a demonstration, convene a discussion group, form an association, join a labor union or throw a party (yes, parties are indeed a form of peaceful assembly). Rights are like muscles – they tend to waste away if they’re not exercised.

Share: Last but not least, we’re asking you to let the world know what you’re up to. We’ve inaugurated a series of hashtags for the anniversary, which you can use on social media to share your art, photos, thoughts … and perhaps even your party pics: #ICCPRat50, #ICESCRat50 and #FOAAat50. Use them. Tag us as well – or drop a line at info@freeassembly.net – we’d be happy to help get the word out.

Fifty years is a big number, but it’s only a start. Let’s join forces to tell the world that this anniversary matters, and that the best is yet to come for the promotion and protection of human rights.

Happy 50th anniversary to everyone,
Maina Kiai and the UNSR mandate team

PS: The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights is also commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Covenants this year; we’re a part of that campaign as well, which you can check out here.

This post is also available in Spanish, French and 中文.

Update June 2016: We’ve now created a #FOAAat50 project page, where you read more about the project browse all of the latest artwork: http://freeassembly.net/foaa-at-50/

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