|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Press Conference by Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism
Despite the Internet’s importance as a communications vehicle, the platform was a powerful double-edged tool, capable of being used to both spread and combat racism, a human rights expert said today at Headquarters following a presentation to the General Assembly of two related reports.
While the Internet was the “preferred tool” of racist groups and movements for the recruitment of new members, it also was an important weapon in combating racism by spreading education and providing a forum for the victims, said Mutuma Ruteere, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.
States were indeed making inroads to stem the flow of online racism, including strengthening human rights institutions at the national level and cooperating with civil society organizations, said Mr. Ruteere, who had earlier presented to the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) reports on global efforts towards the total elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and the comprehensive implementation of and follow-up to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action against racism. (See press Release GA/SHC/4050).
Those reports focused on the issue of racism on the Internet, and on the inadmissibility of certain practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.
At the press conference, he explained that the former was an interim report that included the latest findings on the subject and a series of recommendations. While the Internet had posed specific challenges to States due to its complex technical nature, he said the report proposed, among other things, that countries use legislation to address those challenges along with implementing international instruments, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination. There was also a need to support a diversity of voices, he said, including perspectives from minority groups and the victims of racial discrimination.
Part of the reason his interim report had focused on the Internet was because racist groups were migrating from traditional forms of communication to the Internet, he said, answering a reporter’s question.
One measure to combating racism online meant addressing the “digital exclusion” of certain groups, and attention must be paid to whether or not minority groups were further being marginalized if they did not have access to the Internet, he said, answering reporters’ questions.
Among the cases that his office was handling were situations in Abyei, Sudan, and the situation of the Roma in a number of countries, he said.
Summarizing his report on extremist groups, he said the findings included an overview of the landscape and proposals for measures to address those challenges. Responding to questions on details of that report, he said the findings were thematic and did not focus on specific issues, such as consideration of xenophobia in the United States presidential elections, set for tomorrow. Despite measures such as education to combat racism, he said there had been a global rise in neo-Nazi and extremist groups, he said.
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