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PI/2303

General Assembly Holds Informal High-Level Event to Commemorate First International Day for Countering Hate Speech on 20 June

On 20 June 2022, the President of the General Assembly, Abdulla Shahid, held an informal high-level event to commemorate the first International Day for Countering Hate Speech, as established by General Assembly resolution A/RES/75/309 on the “Promotion of interreligious and intercultural dialogue and tolerance in the fight against Hate Speech”.  This milestone resolution was adopted by consensus on 21 July 2021.

The Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide and Focal Point on Hate Speech, Alice Wairimu Nderitu, speaking on behalf of United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, stressed that “hate speech is a danger to everyone and fighting it is a job for everyone”.  She called on Member States to commit and act to end hate speech by promoting respect for diversity and inclusion.

Assembly President Shahid drew attention to the United Nations Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech and urged its prompt implementation by Member States.  Launched on 18 June 2019, it includes 13 commitments for action fully embedded in international human rights law — in particular, the right to freedom of opinion and expression — and in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

On 17 June, the Permanent Mission of Morocco to the United Nations, and the United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect, organized a high-level side event on the “Role of education to address the root causes of hate speech and advance inclusion, non-discrimination and peace”.  Building on the recommendations of the Global Education Ministers Conference, convened by the Secretary-General on 26 October 2021, the side event highlighted good practices and lessons learned by Member States, the United Nations system and civil society.

In opening remarks at the side event, Special Adviser Nderitu referred to the International Day as an important opportunity to reflect on the challenges posed by hate speech, including how it undermines democratic values, social stability, peace and the enjoyment of human rights for everyone, without discrimination.

The Permanent Representative Morocco, Omar Hilale, highlighted his country’s contributions to global efforts to address hate speech by upholding the principles of coexistence and integration, and the teachings of moderate Islam.

Assembly President Shahid, underlining the insidious effects of hate speech, reiterated the importance of collective responsibility to address this phenomenon and its impact on communities.  He also stressed the need to equip learners with the knowledge and skills to counter hate speech — online and offline — and teach new generations to take responsibility for their online behaviour.

Emphasizing the importance of focusing more on what people have in common than on what separates them, High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations Miguel Angel Moratinos pointed out that hate flourishes in ignorance.  Hence, education must be used to tackle this behaviour.

In the same vein, Assistant Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Stefania Giannini underscored the importance of placing education at the core of such efforts and highlighted UNESCO programmes to support education systems, media, judiciary and several other disciplines in tackling hate speech.

Assistant Secretary-General for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Ilze Brands Kheris, noted that the Secretary-General’s Our Common Agenda report refers to the need to tackle disinformation and hatred, and to the responsibility of Member States to effectively tackle discrimination leading to hate speech.  She also pointed to the central role of education in helping all actors in society identify biases and address the root causes of hate.

Director of the Public Partnerships Division at the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), June Kunugi, stressed that hate speech is a child rights issue, as children are often more vulnerable to such content online and offline.  She emphasized UNICEF’s good practices in this regard, including on fostering social cohesion in education.

In concluding remarks, Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications, Melissa Fleming, who moderated the event, presented a new multilingual campaign launched by the Department of Global Communications using the hashtag #NoToHate.  The campaign targets young audiences across globe with content to improve their understanding of hate speech, highlight individual responsibility and spur action.

For information media. Not an official record.