UN actions against hate speech

Further UN initiatives to combat hate speech

Further initiatives across the United Nations system go beyond legal responses with the aim to prevent and mitigate the impact of hate speech.

The Rabat Plan of Action - Complementing International Human Rights Law provisions, the Rabat Plan of Action on the prohibition of advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence provides key guidance on the distinction between the freedom of expression and the incitement to discrimination, hostility and violence.

Adopted in October 2012, the Rabat Plan of Action is the outcome of a series of Expert meetings organized by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). It stresses the collective responsibility of States officials, religious and community leaders, the media, civil society and all individuals on the need to nurture social cohesion, tolerance, dialogue to prevent incitement to hatred.

The Plan of Action for religious leaders and actors

This Plan of Action includes a rich and broad range of recommendations for ways in which religious leaders and actors can prevent incitement to violence and contribute to peace and stability. It is meant primarily as a tool to inform and advise the work of religious leaders and actors, as well as other relevant players such as States and institutions, secular civil society organizations, and media. Launched in July 2017, the Plan of Action captures the recommendations of the two years process of regional consultations, taking place within the “Fez process''. This process was the first of its kind dedicated to engagement with religious leaders from different faiths and religions and actors in order to develop strategies to prevent incitement that could lead to atrocity crimes. The consultations, organised around the world under the leadership of the United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect (OSAPG), took place between April 2015 and December 2016 and gathered a total of 232 religious leaders and actors from 77 countries, with government officials, United Nations entities, civil society organizations and experts working on conflict prevention, peace-building and human rights and development.

Social Media 4 Peace

Initiated in January 2021 in 3 pilot countries, with the support of the European Union, this UNESCO project aims to strengthen the resilience of societies to potentially harmful content spread online - in particular hate speech inciting violence - while protecting freedom of expression and enhancing the promotion of peace through digital technologies, notably social media.

Beyond the long shadow: engaging with difficult histories

Debuting in July 2020, this live discussion series is organized by the United Nations Department of Global Communications in partnership with the Outreach Programme on the transatlantic slave trade and slavery, the Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme, and the Outreach Programme on the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda and the United Nations. The aim of the collaborative series is to develop a deeper understanding of the legacies of painful human tragedies, and through examining the past, consider how best to build a world that is just, where all can live in dignity and peace.

#SpreadNoHate Series

As the anti-immigrant and anti-refugee rhetoric used in politics, the news, and social media grow worldwide, the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) launched the #SpreadNoHate initiative in 2015 with the goal to provide global media with a platform to engage in an international dialogue on hate speech against migrants and refugees and to share good practices to promote positive narratives.

UNESCO’s Media and Information Literacy initiatives (MIL)

The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) supports the development of MIL competencies among global societies with a broad range of actions, partnerships and resources such as free and open online courses for self-paced learning about MIL or the UNESCO MIL Alliance and MIL University Network in order to facilitate networking and research. The recently-launched MIL CLICKS social media initiative is also part of UNESCO’s strategy to advance media and information literacy worldwide, while the Global media and information literacy week - commemorated annually - is a major occasion for all relevant stakeholders to review and celebrate the progress achieved towards Media and Information Literacy for all.

The “Verified” Initiative

This global UN initiative launched in May 2020 aims to combat COVID-19 misinformation - often paired with fear-mongering and hateful content - by increasing the volume and reach of trusted, accurate information. “Verified” brings together United Nations agencies and teams around the world, with influencers, civil society, business and media organizations in order to distribute trusted, accurate content, while working with social media platforms to root out hate and harmful assertions about COVID-19.

The International Day for Countering Hate Speech

Marking an important milestone in the fight against hate speech, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution on “promoting interreligious and intercultural dialogue and tolerance in countering hate speech”. The resolution proclaims 18 June as the International Day for Countering Hate Speech and will first be marked on 18 June 2022.

Social media 4 peace, September 2021
Launch of “Verified” initiative, May 2020
5 Ways to Make Sure Information Online is Reliable | United Nations Verified Initiative (WikiHow), November 2020