Unanimously Adopting Resolution 2686 (2023), Security Council Urges International Community to Prevent Incitement, Condemn Hate Speech, Racism, Acts of Extremism
Recognizing that hate speech, racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, intolerance, gender discrimination and acts of extremism can contribute to conflict, the Security Council today unanimously adopted a resolution that, among other things, urged Member States to publicly condemn violence, hate speech and extremism and encouraged them to prevent the spread of intolerant ideology and incitement to hatred.
By the terms of Council resolution 2686 (2023) (to be issued as document S/RES/2686(2023)), the 15-nation organ encouraged all relevant stakeholders to share good practices promoting tolerance and peaceful coexistence and address hate speech and extremism in a manner consistent with applicable international law. Member States, in particular, were called upon to have regard to inter-religious and intercultural dialogue as an important tool to achieve peace, social stability and internationally agreed development goals.
Also by the text, States were urged to promote women’s full, equal, meaningful and safe participation and leadership; strengthen social cohesion, community resilience, gender equality and women’s economic empowerment; and support quality education for peace. Among other things, it reaffirmed States’ obligation to respect, promote and protect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all individuals.
Condemning misinformation, disinformation and incitement to violence against United Nations peacekeeping operations, the Council encouraged all of the Secretary-General’ special representatives and special envoys to use their good offices to support local peace initiatives and involve local communities, women, youth, civil society and religious leaders where appropriate. In addition, it requested United Nations peacekeeping and special political missions to monitor hate speech, racism and acts of extremism that might impact peace and security.
Further, The Council urged relevant United Nations entities to increase their activities focusing on peace education to enhance the values that are essential for a culture of peace. As well, the Peacebuilding Commission should continue utilizing its convening role to ensure an integrated, strategic, coherent, coordinated and gender-responsive approach to promote tolerance, address hate speech and build and sustain peace.
The resolution also encouraged the Secretary-General to carry out and include lessons learned and best practices in relevant reporting. On reporting, the Council requested him to provide an oral briefing on the resolution’s implementation by 14 June 2024 and to swiftly inform it of threats to international peace and security.
Speaking before the vote, Lana Zaki Nusseibeh (United Arab Emirates) stressed that long-standing prejudices do not vanish once fighting stops, especially since hatred is passed down through generations when racist and extremist ideologies are left unaddressed. In this context, the draft resolution takes critical, concrete steps to address hate speech, racism and extremism; promotes tolerance; and recognizes the important role of women, youth and inter-religious dialogue. “The values of tolerance and peaceful coexistence are the foundation upon which lasting peace must be built,” she emphasized.
Nicolas de Rivière (France), also speaking before the vote, observed that fraternity and tolerance — while important — are ambiguous concepts which can have contradictory interpretations. As important as they may be, religious questions do not have a place in the Council and cannot be addressed without considering freedom of expression as a whole. Expressing his regret that the draft resolution is selective and too weak on a number of areas, he said France will continue to mobilize on those areas in all competent fora. It will also oppose any attempts to import them into the Council’s questions.
Speaking after the vote, James Kariuki (United Kingdom) pointed out that, for the first time, the Council has directly addressed the discrimination and persecution faced by a range of minority groups in conflict settings. The text’s careful drafting makes clear that all efforts to address acts of incitement and extremism in conflict must do so in compliance with international human rights law. All States must respect and protect the rights and freedoms of individuals, he stressed, adding that this must remain the bedrock of all the Council’s efforts.
Adrian Dominik Hauri (Switzerland) emphasizing that freedom of expression in no way authorizes discriminatory or racist comments, reiterating his concern that the term “extremism” without the word “violent” leaves room for an interpretation that could be arbitrarily used against those exercising freedom of expression. “Extremism” should be used to describe actions and not ideas. In this respect, he voiced his regret that the resolution does not include references to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Jeffrey DeLaurentis (United States) said the resolution does not alter the emphasis that opinions and beliefs must be protected, even if they are characterized as extreme. “Stifling human rights is counterproductive to the vision of peace and security that we, as the members of the Security Council, seek to advance,” he said. As such, his country will stand with like-minded Council members in ensuring that the resolution is not misused to justify any human rights violations nor the repression of human rights defenders; women and girls; and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning and intersex (LGTQI+) persons.
Vanessa Frazier (Malta) pointed out that intersectional and gender transformative approaches are the most effective in responding to the multiple — and often overlapping — forms of discrimination and incitement to hatred. On the term “extremism”, she said she interprets it to refer to violent extremism conducive to terrorism. All Member States have a responsibility to promote, protect and uphold human rights in all contexts, she stressed, rejecting any violations of international human rights law in the name of preventing or countering terrorism, violent extremism or extremism more broadly.
Hernán Pérez Loose (Ecuador), reaffirming his country’s principled position to promote human rights for all, said he voted in favour of the resolution because intolerance impedes international peace and security. Nothing in the resolution must be interpreted or invoked to restrict or place conditions on the free exercise of individual rights, he underscored.
The meeting began at 12:42 p.m. and ended at 1:04 p.m.