The Secretary-General today launched a United Nations Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech at an informal briefing to Member States. The purpose of the Strategy is to deepen understanding on the part of all United Nations entities about the insidious impact of hate speech and how they can more effectively address it in their work.
It calls for stronger support to Member States as well as stronger engagement with private companies, civil society and media.
The Strategy provides ideas on how to address the root causes and drivers of hate speech and how to reduce its impact on societies.
“Hate speech is in itself an attack on tolerance, inclusion, diversity and the very essence of our human rights norms and principles. More broadly, it undermines social cohesion, erodes shared values, and can lay the foundation for violence, setting back the cause of peace, stability, sustainable development and the fulfillment of human rights for all” stated Secretary-General Antonio Guterres while briefing Member States.
Over the past 75 years, we have seen hate speech as a precursor to atrocity crimes, including genocide, from Rwanda to Bosnia to Cambodia. More recently, it has been strongly linked with violence resulting in mass killings in several parts of the world, including in Central African Republic, Sri Lanka, New Zealand and the United States. Governments and technology companies alike are struggling to prevent and respond to orchestrated online hate.
“As new channels for hate speech are reaching wider audiences than ever before and at lightning speed, we all – the United Nations, governments, technology companies, educational institutions – need to step up our responses” said Guterres.
Adama Dieng, Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide added: “In line with the United Nations longstanding commitment to the protection, promotion and implementation of all international human rights standards, the strategy and plan of action never calls for restrictions of freedom of expression and opinion to address hate speech. By contrast, it adopts a holistic approach that aims at tackling the whole life cycle of hate speech, from its roots causes to its impact on societies. It also considers more speech - alternative, positive and counter-narratives – to be the answer to hate speech”.
To strengthen UN support to Member States, the Secretary General announced that he intends to convene a conference on the role of education in addressing and building resilience against hate speech. He also designated the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide as the UN Focal Point for the implementation of the Strategy and Plan of Action. In this capacity, the Special Adviser will oversee and facilitate the development of more specific guidance on the implementation.