Freedom of Association

What is Freedom of Association?

Freedom of association refers to a person's ability to join or leave any group they so choose and to participate in collective action on behalf of all of the group's members.


Freedom of association is a fundamental human right that is protected under almost all contemporary legal systems. It is both an individual and a collective right that is highly valued in labour relations. The freedom of association is protected by Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Conventions 87 and 98 of the International Labor Organization, and the United States Bill of Rights.


While the term "freedom of association" refers to the majority of groups, it is most commonly used in the context of employment to refer to trade unions and political parties. A related concept is freedom of assembly, which is the right to gather and discuss, debate, promote, and champion a set of shared interests and beliefs.

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