Hate speech incites violence and intolerance. Unfortunately, the destructive effects of hate are nothing new. But new communication technologies are now increasing their scope and influence. Hate speech, including online hate speech, has become one of the most common ways to spread divisive rhetoric around the world and threatens peace around the world. The United Nations has a long history of mobilizing the world against all forms of hatred, defending human rights and promoting the rule of law.
The impact of hate speech touches many key areas of the UN, from human rights protection and atrocity prevention to peacekeeping, gender equality and support for children and young people. With combating hatred, discrimination, racism and inequality as one of its founding principles, the UN works hard to combat hate speech. This mission is enshrined in the United Nations Charter, the international human rights framework and global efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
“Hate speech is a wake-up call – the louder it sounds, the greater the threat of genocide. It precedes and promotes violence”.
Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary-General, 2023
UN strategy and action plan to combat hate speech
In response to the growing alarming trends in xenophobia, racism and intolerance, violent misogyny, anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim hatred around the world, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on 18 June 2019 launched the UN Strategy and Action Plan to Combat Hate Speech. This is the first UN-wide initiative to address hate speech, providing a roadmap for how the organization can support and complement national efforts. This strategy emphasizes the need to comprehensively combat hate while respecting freedom of opinion and expression and working with relevant stakeholders such as civil society, media organisations, technology companies and social media platforms. In 2021, the General Assembly adopted a resolution declaring June 18 as the “International Day for the Elimination of Hate Speech”.