September 16, 2019
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 In Right to Peaceful Protest

Country: Greece
Delegate Name: Julia Kruger

Country: Greece
Committee: SOCHUM
Topic: Right to Peaceful Protest
Delegate: Julia Kruger
School: Williamston High School

Freedom of speech is a human right. The ability to have a peaceful protest is a part of freedom of speech. However, safety and property damage need to be taken into account because protests labeled as “peaceful” can turn ugly quickly. When done wrong, protests can do the opposite of what they are intended to accomplish. The right for people to peaceably assemble is important, but there is the question of what extent should be lawful? Many people have opinions on what sort of protest is peaceful or not, but there is no established “line” to be crossed. According to the BBC, over 150 nations give citizens the right to peaceful protest. Also, “Nonviolent protests are twice as likely to succeed as armed conflicts – and those engaging a threshold of 3.5% of the population have never failed to bring about change” (BBC). There is also the question of how successful protests are. According to a survey, 45 percent of Americans said it is somewhat effective when they participate in public protests for political reasons. Peaceful protesting is important and can be an effective tool for gaining attention, for expressing grievances as well as other social issues. However, it can be hard for people to agree on when a peaceful protest is no longer amicable and needs government intervention.

In Greece, the right to peaceful assembly is generally respected. Citizens of Greece have a constitutional right to assembly and peaceful protest. However, there are instances (especially recently) of “authorities abusing power to trample on right to protest” according to Amnesty International. Furthermore, specifically during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Greek authorities have used arbitrary arrests, blanket bans, unjustified fines, and unlawful use of force to curb peaceful protests, new research by Amnesty International has revealed. Even prior to the pandemic, Greece has had accounts of peaceful protest turned dangerous. One example was a protest against new laws on July 9th, 2020. A group of over 10,000 peaceful protesters had gathered in central Athens. Violence broke out when some of the younger protesters hurled petrol bombs at riot police outside parliament, causing police to respond with tear gas and flash grenades. Greece has been trying to find the line between what can and cannot be allowed in a peaceful protest, but is facing a lot of unrest as they are doing so.

Greece recognizes that many other fellow countries are trying to reevaluate protest laws. Greece would propose a specialized team dedicated to finding solutions for not only Greece, but other countries as well, with a focus on finding laws that protect the safety of citizens without restricting human rights. Greece feels that since the right to peaceful protesting is a universal issue but also impacts individual countries that the UN should only intervene on helping find solutions but not enforcing. Greece believes that it will find allies with the USA, Italy, Germany, New Zealand, and the UK.

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