Hatred is a danger to everyone – and so fighting it must be a job for everyone.”
UN Secretary-General António Guterres
Hate speech is on the rise
Hate speech is on the rise worldwide with the potential to incite violence, undermine social cohesion and tolerance, and cause psychological, emotional, and physical harm to those affected.
Hate speech not only affects the specific individuals and groups targeted but societies at large.
The devastating effect of hatred is sadly nothing new. However, its scale and impact are amplified today by new technologies of communication, so much so that hate speech, has become one of the most frequent methods for spreading divisive rhetoric and ideologies on a global scale. If left unchecked, hate speech can even harm peace and development, as it lays the ground for conflicts and tensions, and wide-scale human rights violations.
In July 2021, the UN General Assembly highlighted global concerns over “the exponential spread and proliferation of hate speech” around the world and adopted a resolution on “promoting inter-religious and intercultural dialogue and tolerance in countering hate speech”.
The resolution recognizes the need to counter discrimination, xenophobia, and hate speech and calls on all relevant actors, including States, to increase their efforts to address this phenomenon, in line with international human rights law.
The resolution proclaimed 18 June as the International Day for Countering Hate Speech, which will be marked for the first time in 2022.
To observe the Day, the United Nations invites governments, international organizations, civil society groups, and individuals to hold events and initiatives promoting strategies to identify, address and counter hate speech. The President of the General Assembly convened an informal High-level Meeting to mark the commemoration of the first International Day to take place Monday, 20 June 2022, at 10 a.m. EDT at the General Assembly Hall in New York City.
Whether as the Member States, the private sector, the media and internet corporations, faith leaders, educators, actors of civil society, those affected by hate speech, youth, or simply as an individual, we all have the moral duty of speaking out firmly against instances of hate speech and play a crucial role to in countering this scourge.
Hate speech is not only a denial of the essential values of the Organization, but it also undermines the UN Charter‘s very core principles and objectives, such as respect for human dignity, equality, and peace.
Advancing human rights and fighting hate are at the heart of the Organization’s mission and the United Nations has the duty to confront the global issue of hate speech at every turn.
The impact of hate speech cuts across numerous existing United Nations areas of focus, from human rights protection and prevention of atrocity crimes to sustaining peace and achieving gender equality, and supporting children and youth.
The International Day of Countering Hate Speech is an initiative that builds on the UN Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech launched on 18 June 2019. This first UN system-wide initiative designed to tackle hate speech provides an essential framework for how the Organization can support and complement States’ efforts.
The strategy emphasizes the need to counter hate holistically and with full respect for freedom of opinion and expression while working in collaboration with relevant stakeholders, including civil society organizations, media outlets, tech companies, and social media platforms.
- Resolution on the International Day for Countering Hate Speech
- UN Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech
- Rabat Plan of Action on the prohibition of advocacy of national, racial, or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility, or violence
- The framework of Analysis for Atrocity Crimes
- Plan of Action for religious leaders and actors
- Guidance note on addressing and countering Covid-19 related hate speech
- Engaging Religious Actors to counter hate speech, prevent incitement to violence, and build peaceful and inclusive societies
Virtual Event on Higher Education and Academics’ Role in Promoting Human Dignity
The United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI), jointly with the Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme, the United Nations Outreach Programme on the Transatlantic Slave Trade and Slavery, and the Outreach Programme on the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, to mark the first International Day for Countering Hate Speech, is organizing a virtual event to recognize the significant role of higher education and academics, in the global efforts to promote human dignity and inclusion in times when dissemination of hatred is alarming and rising.
This event will take place on Thursday, 16 June 2022, from 9 am to 10:30 am (New York time). It will serve to highlight the activities in terms of teaching, research, and community engagement that are carried out in universities and colleges to counter hate speech on campus and beyond, and the contribution of the work of institutions of higher education to create awareness and change policies in this regard. Moreover, and through the opinion of experts in the field with roles in international organizations, we will share ideas on how to reinforce the role of academia to address the challenges derived from hate speech.
You can find further details, including the link to access the registration form, here.