The Right of Association

Pedro, a commentator on the site, asked me how a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) could be established in Cuba. I will dedicate several entries to explaining this issue according to Cuban law.

To associate for any lawful purpose is an element of freedom that is protected, in principle, in Article 54 of the Constitution of the Republic, stating that:

“The rights of assembly, demonstration, and association are exercised by manual laborers and intellectual, peasants, women, students and other sectors of the working people for they have the means necessary for such purposes.”

The associations give life to entities with legal personalities distinct from their members. The term is defined as a voluntary group of people pursuing a common purpose, on a non-profit basis. They respond to a form of freedom that corresponds to the exercise of other rights such as speech or petition.

As a recognized human right, this implies the right to form associations, to not be compelled to belong to one, and the right to resign from the association to which you belong. If a public servant interferes in this right, it is a violation.

That is, if they impede the creation of an association, or of someone’s becoming a part of one, without legal grounds to justify it; or, where appropriate, someone consents to it. It is also a violation to force someone to be belong to an association or, conversely, to force someone to leave one.

The right of freedom of association has legal restrictions on its exercise, since the purpose must always be lawful. It is enshrined in international law, and in some cases expanded upon.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, enshrines the right of peaceful assembly as a freedom for all people. The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination also guarantees it. Children also require this right, as recognized in the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Basic principles regarding the role of lawyers establishes their right to freedom of expression, belief, association, and assembly; in particular the right to participate in public discussion of matters relating to legislation, the administration of justice, and the promotion and protection of human rights.

The instrument also emphasizes that lawyers are entitled to form professional associations or to join them in order to represent their interests, promote their continuing education and training and protect their professional integrity.

Marcos D in NYC