Tuesday, June 25, 2019
UN Hate Speech 6/18/19
18 June 2019
Secretary-General's remarks at the launch of the United Nations Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech [as delivered]
Thank you for being here today to mark the launch of the United Nations Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech.
This Strategy and Plan of Action are brand new – but they are rooted in our oldest commitment. Respect for human rights, without discrimination based on race, sex, language or religion, is a thread running through the United Nations Charter.
When the Charter was drafted, the world had just witnessed genocide on an industrial scale. Hate speech had sown the seeds, building on millennia of scapegoating and discrimination against the Jews, and culminating in the Holocaust.
Seventy-five years on, we are in danger of forgetting this lesson.
Around the world, we see a groundswell of xenophobia, racism and intolerance, violent misogyny, and also anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim hatred. In some places, Christian communities are attacked. Hateful and destructive views are enabled and amplified exponentially through digital technology, often targeting women, minorities, and the most vulnerable. Extremists gather online and radicalize new recruits.
In both liberal democracies and authoritarian regimes, some political leaders are bringing the hate-fueled ideas and language of these groups into the mainstream, normalizing them, coarsening the public discourse and weakening the social fabric.
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.
Over the past 75 years, hate speech has been a precursor to atrocity crimes, including genocide, from Rwanda to Bosnia to Cambodia.
More recently, it has been strongly linked with violence and killings in several regions of the world, including Sri Lanka, New Zealand and here in 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 at lightning speed, we all – the United Nations, governments, technology companies, educational institutions – need to step up our response.
The United Nations Strategy and Plan of Action we are launching today is an ambitious programme to coordinate efforts across the UN system to identify, prevent and confront hate speech, using all the means in our power.
The United Nations System-Wide Strategy and Plan of Action has two overriding objectives.