529. Nature and status.

The right of individuals to gather together in the pursuit of a common aim is fundamental to the democratic process and is recognised as part of the proper and healthy functioning of a democracy that respects pluralism and diversity1. Indeed, the European Court of Human Rights has held that the way in which states enshrine and protect the freedom to associate is indicative of the state of democracy in the country concerned2. Like freedom of peaceful assembly3, the right to associate is important for the promotion of economic, social and cultural interests, as well as ethnic and cultural identities,