United Nations Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech

Background

In response to current alarming trends of growing xenophobia, racism and intolerance, violent misogyny, anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim hatred around the world, on 18 June, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres launched the United Nations Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech. The strategy recognizes that over the past 75 years, hate speech has been a precursor to atrocity crimes, including genocide, from Rwanda to Bosnia to Cambodia. As noted by the Secretary-General at the launch:

Hate speech is in itself an attack on tolerance, inclusion, diversity and the very essence of our human rights norms and principles. More broadly, it undermines social cohesion, erodes shared values, and can lay the foundation for violence, setting back the cause of peace, stability, sustainable development and the fulfillment of human rights for all.

The Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech sets out strategic guidance for the United Nations system to address hate speech at the national and global level. It also includes ways the United Nations Secretariat can support the work of the United Nations Resident Coordinators in addressing and countering hate speech.

Its objectives are twofold: first, to enhance United Nations efforts to address root causes and drivers of hate speech; and second, to enable effective United Nations responses to the impact of hate speech on societies.

The Strategy and Plan of Action consists of 13 commitments for action by the United Nations system and is grounded on four key principles:

  1. The strategy and its implementation to be in line with the right to freedom of opinion and expression. The United Nations supports more speech, not less, as the key means to address hate speech;
  2. Tackling hate speech is the responsibility of all – governments, societies, the private sector, starting with individual women and men. All are responsible, all must act;
  3. In the digital age, the United Nations should support a new generation of digital citizens, empowered to recognize, reject and stand up to hate speech;
  4. We need to know more to act effectively – this calls for coordinated data collection and research, including on the root causes, drivers and conditions conducive to hate speech. It also includes ways the UN Secretariat can support the work of the Resident Coordinators in addressing and countering hate speech.

Launch by the Secretary-General

  • Read the news on the launch
  • The speech of the Secretary-General and the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide
  • The Secretary-General’s stakeout with news correspondents following the launch