UN launches plan of action on hate speech

United Nations: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday announced the launch of the UN Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech.

The strategy and plan of action is a program to coordinate efforts across the UN system to identify, prevent and confront hate speech, using all the means in its power, according to the UN chief.

“Around the world, we see a groundswell of xenophobia, racism and intolerance, violent misogyny, and also anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim hatred,” said Guterres, Xinhua news agency reported.

Hate speech is in itself an attack on tolerance, inclusion, diversity and the very essence of human rights norms and principles, said the secretary-general, adding that 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.

Over the past 75 years, hate speech has been a precursor to atrocity crimes, including genocide, from Rwanda to Bosnia to Cambodia, he added.

“More recently, it has been strongly linked with violence and killings in several regions of the world, including Sri Lanka, New Zealand and here in the US.”

“As new channels for hate speech are reaching wider audiences than ever at lightning speed, we all — the United Nations, governments, technology companies, educational institutions — need to step up our response,” Guterres said.

The UN system-wide strategy and plan of action has two “overriding objectives,” according to the UN chief.

“While digital technology has provided new areas in which hate speech can thrive, it can also help to monitor activity, target our response and build support for counter-narratives,” he said.