Home > yourrights > The Human Rights Act/The Convention Rights > The Convention Rights > Article 11: Freedom of Assembly and Association

Article 11: Freedom of Assembly and Association

1. Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and to freedom of association with others, including the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

2. No restrictions shall be placed on the exercise of these rights other than such as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others. This Article shall not prevent the imposition of lawful restrictions on the exercise of these rights by members of the armed forces, of the police or of the administration of the state.

There are two aspects to Article 11. It protects the right to peaceful assembly, which includes the freedom to hold public or private meetings, demonstrations, rallies and sit-ins, without interference from the State.

This may include a positive obligation on the State to ensure that demonstrators are protected from counter-demonstrators trying to prevent their demonstration. However, it does not generally include a positive obligation on the State to ensure that the right to peaceful assembly is protected on private property (Appleby v UK 2003).

Article 11 also protects the freedom to associate with others, including the right to form or join a political party or other group or association, and the right to belong to a trade union. However, the right to join a trade union does not extend to police officers, soldiers and some other groups who work for the Government. Article 11 also guarantees the right not to have to associate with others, including the right not to join a union and imposes a positive obligation on the State to secure this.

Article 11 is a qualified right. This means that an interference with the right can be justified. The circumstances in which an interference can be justified are similar to those which justify an interference with rights under Article 8 (See section headed ‘A qualified right’ under Article 8). You should note that a requirement to obtain prior authorisation or to provide prior information about an assembly will not constitute an interference with the freedom of assembly where the purpose of the requirements falls within one the legitimate aims set out in Article 11(2).

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