The Right to: Freedom of Association Article 22 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights So, we are going to explore what freedom of association really means. The right to freedom of association is the right to form or join a group to take collective action. This can be applied to formal or informal groups, and also includes the right not to be compelled to join a group. These associations can take many forms. States may not limit the right to freedom of association based on nationality, gender, genetic features, ethnic or social origin, religion, language, political opinion, property, disability, age, sexual orientation, or any other status. Associations must be protected whether they are registered or not – States must enable the effective functioning of associations and refrain from imposing conditions on registration that might operate as restrictions. As with other rights, States may place certain restrictions on the right to freedom of association. All such measures must be prescribed by law and can only be justified in the interest of national security or public safety, public order, the protection of public health or morals, or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others. All limitations must be prescribed by law, and be necessary and proportionate to the intended aim. The right to freedom of association also includes the right of groups to access funding and hold resources. So, to recap: States have an obligation to provide the legal framework for the establishment of associations and must abstain from unduly obstructing the exercise of this right, as well as to protect associations from interference by third parties. States are obliged to take positive measures to establish and maintain a safe and enabling environment for associations to function, respecting their privacy and that of their members. The right to freedom of association is fundamental to freedom of expression.