United Nations – Welcoming the United Nations Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech

Excerpt from a letter penned to the UN Secretary-General penned by me on behalf of the ICT4Peace Foundation. Originally posted on the Foundation’s website on 19 June 2019.

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Image courtesy Vice

The ICT4Peace Foundation congratulates the Secretary-General of the UN on the launch of the UN strategy and plan of action on hate speech. The Foundation’s research into and work on the complex, fluid dynamics of hate speech, over a decade and across five continents, strongly complements the capture and submission of the problem space by the Secretary-General in his remarks at the launch of the strategy.

As far back as 2010, after meetings with the Office of the UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Mr. Francis Deng and the Special Adviser on the responsibility to protect, Mr. Edward Luck, the Foundation published ‘ICTs for the prevention of mass atrocity crimes‘. Some sections of the report, dealing with the challenges and opportunities of communications technology to prevent genocide, resonate deeply with the new plan of action against hate speech.

The Foundation’s interest in and commitment to this work, for well over a decade, spans work with many UN agencies including the Office for the High Commissioner on Human Rights, substantive input into the ‘Christchurch Call’ and diplomatic briefings in Switzerland. From Sri Lanka – which is twice mentioned in the Secretary-General’s remarks – to Myanmar, New Zealand to the Balkans, the Foundation’s research, training, workshops, output and reports have tackled head on the challenges around countering violence extremism online, and the rise of hate speech in online fora. The Foundation also fed into the High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation, the framework of which as noted dovetails with what’s required to combat hate speech in both physical and virtual domains.

We recognize that the institutional mandate of the focal point of the action plan, Mr Adama Dieng, Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, is well-placed to embrace the challenges around increasing hate speech generation and dissemination. The Foundation’s experience in this domain is anchored to lived experience and close to two decades of activism by colleagues from Sri Lanka, as well as a long history of diplomatic, institutional, systemic and substantive interventions to and within the UN system, in New York, Geneva and country-offices, including specific peacekeeping missions.

The Foundation, along with colleagues who are well-regarded experts in this domain, looks forward to – in person or electronically – supporting endeavors to widen and deepen this timely, important initiative, which undergirds the UN’s core values and mission.

For related tweets, see tweet thread here.

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