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Joint Guidelines on Freedom of Association

Adopted on: 12 – 13 December 2014
Reference number: CDL-AD(2014)046 Adopted by: European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission) together with OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR)
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These guidelines have been developed to further the goal of implementing the right to freedom of association. Although they are primarily intended for use by legislators tasked with drafting laws that regulate or affect associations, they can be of use to anyone who is interested in the practical aspects related to the exercise of freedom of association. The guidelines are based on the extensive case law of the European Court of Human Rights, among other standards, and illustrate key principles with examples of good practice from individual states. The guidelines consist of an introduction and three sections. Section A introduces the definition of associations, the importance of associations, the fundamental rights of associations and the need for well-drafted legislation in this regard. Section B outlines the guiding principles of the right to freedom of association, while Section C contains interpretative notes that elaborate on the guiding principles and are intended to provide a better understanding of the guidelines and should be read in concert with them. One of the provisions contained in the interpretative notes tackles the issues of independence of NGOs stating that “An association must be independent and free from undue interference of the state or of other external actors. An association is not independent if decisions concerning its activities and operations are taken by anyone other than the members of the association or a body designated by its members to do so.”

Youth specific: No

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