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Freedom of association

Freedom of association is a fundamental human right guaranteed by major international human rights standards, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and ILO conventions. It is crucial to the functioning of a democracy and an essential condition for the exercise of other human rights. In the human rights and business context, freedom of association is most frequently understood as the right of workers “to join organizations of their own choosing without previous authorization” (ILO Convention 87), which is a fundamental enabling right. It is a prerequisite for many other basic labour rights, as the ability of workers to organise allows them to use their collective power to achieve improved labour rights, health and safety at the workplace, the right not to be discriminated against and freedom from forced labour and child labour. The principle of freedom of association is at the core of the ILO’s values: it is enshrined in the ILO Constitution  (1919), the ILO Declaration of Philadelphia  (1944), and the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work  (1998). It is also a right proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights  (1948) and has been included in a number of voluntary initiatives such as the Ethical Trading Initiative Base Code.

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What National Action Plans say on Freedom of association