States Must Step Up Commitments to Combat Hatred, Promote Diversity, Says Secretary-General, Marking Day for Countering Hate Speech

Following is UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ message on the International Day for Countering Hate Speech, observed 18 June:

Hate speech is a marker of discrimination, abuse, violence, conflict and even crimes against humanity.  We have seen this play out from Nazi Germany to Rwanda, Bosnia and beyond.  There is no acceptable level of hate speech; we must all work to eradicate it completely.

Hate speech today targets a broad range of groups, often based on grounds of race, ethnicity, religion, belief or political affiliation.  Recent months have seen an upsurge in both antisemitic and anti-Muslim hate speech online and in public comments by influential leaders.  Hate speech may be used against women, refugees, migrants, gender-diverse and trans people, and minorities.  It is massively amplified by the power of digital platforms and tools that enable it to spread across borders and cultures.

States have an obligation under international law to prevent and combat incitement to hatred and to promote diversity, mutual understanding and solidarity.  They must step up and implement these commitments, while ensuring that the measures they take preserve freedom of speech and protect minorities and other communities.

The United Nations Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech provides a framework to tackle both the causes and impacts of this scourge.  And the United Nations is currently preparing Global Principles for Information Integrity to guide decision makers around these issues.

As young people are often most affected by hate speech, particularly online, young people must be part of the solution.  The participation of young people, particularly girls and young women, Indigenous youth, young people from minority communities, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer youth and young people with disabilities, is crucial to create public and online spaces free from hate speech.

Governments, local authorities, religious, corporate and community leaders have a duty to invest in measures to promote tolerance, diversity and inclusivity, and to challenge hate speech in all its forms.

As we mark the International Day for Countering Hate Speech, let us all work to promote human rights education, bring young people into democratic decision-making, and counter intolerance, discrimination, prejudice and stereotypes, wherever they are found.

For information media. Not an official record.