Home FOREIGN UN Declares Hate Speech “Malicious Act” That Must Be Condemned Unconditionally

UN Declares Hate Speech “Malicious Act” That Must Be Condemned Unconditionally

United Nations (UN) has declared in New York that hate speech is one of the malicious acts which must be condemned unconditionally.

The UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, who spoke today, June 18 when he launched ‘UN Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech’ at the UN headquarters, stressed that war is being declared on hate speech, saying: “hate speech must be treated, like any other malicious act: by condemning it unconditionally; refusing to amplify it; countering it with the truth; and encouraging the perpetrators to change their behavior.”

Guterres said that hate speech might have “gained a foothold, but it is now on notice.”

He told member states: “we all need to do better at looking out for each other. The world will never stop confronting the menace.”

The UN chief attributed hate speech to the genocide in Rwanda, Bosnia, Cambodia and recent mass-violence directed at places of worship in Sri Lanka, New Zealand and the United States.

According to him, while the strategy and action plan is new, it is also rooted in the need to respect the human rights of all, barring any discrimination.

Guterres said that the UN Charter came into being after the world had witnessed genocide on an industrial scale, when hate speech against Jews, culminated in the Holocaust.

“Almost 75 years on, we are in danger of forgetting this lesson.

“Around the world, we see a groundswell of xenophobia, racism and intolerance, violent misogyny, anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim hatred.

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“In some places, Christian communities are also being systematically attacked.

“Hateful and destructive views are amplified exponentially through digital technology, and extremists are gathering online, radicalising new recruits.

“In both liberal democracies and authoritarian regimes, some political leaders are bringing the hate-fuelled ideas and language of these groups into the mainstream, normalising them, coarsening the public discourse and weakening the social fabric.

“Hate speech not only attacks human rights norms and principles, it also undermines social cohesion, erodes shared values and lays the foundation for violence.

“This sets back the cause of peace, stability, sustainable development and the fulfilment of human rights for all.”
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Guterres explained that the UN Strategy and Plan of Action provided a system-wide programme with the overriding objective of identifying, preventing and confronting hate speech.

The plan, according to him, targets the root causes of hate speech, in line with his prevention vision, which includes tackling violence, marginalisation, discrimination and poverty, as well as strengthening weak state institutions.
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“While digital technology has provided new areas for hate speech to thrive,’’ the UN chief maintained that it can also help to monitor activity, target our response and build support for counter-narratives.

“Addressing hate speech should never be confused with suppressing freedom of expression but instead keep it from escalating into something more dangerous, particularly incitement to discrimination, hostility and violence.”

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