Hate speech is on the rise worldwide with the potential to incite violence, undermine social cohesion and tolerance, and cause psychological, emotional, and physical harm to those affected. Hate speech not only affects the specific individuals and groups targeted but societies at large. The devastating effect of hatred is sadly nothing new. However, its scale and impact are amplified today by new technologies of communication, so much so that hate speech, has become one of the most frequent methods for spreading divisive rhetoric and ideologies on a global scale. If left unchecked, hate speech can even harm peace and development, as it lays the ground for conflicts and tensions, wide scale human rights violations. The UN General Assembly highlighted global concerns over “the exponential spread and proliferation of hate speech” around the world and adopted a resolution on “promoting inter-religious and intercultural dialogue and tolerance in countering hate speech”. The resolution recognizes the need to counter discrimination, xenophobia and hate speech and calls on all relevant actors, including States, to increase their efforts to address this phenomenon, in line with international human rights law. The resolution proclaimed 18 June as the International Day for Countering Hate Speech, which will be marked for the first time in 2022. Indeed, Hate speech is not only a denial of the essential values of the Organization, but it also undermines the UN Charter’s very core principles and objectives, such as respect for human dignity, equality, and peace. Advancing human rights and fighting hate are at the heart of the Organization’s mission and the United Nations has the duty to confront the global issue of hate speech at every turn. The impact of hate speech cuts across numerous existing United Nations areas of focus, from human rights protection and prevention of atrocity crimes to sustaining peace and achieving gender equality and supporting children and youth.
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