17 November, 2016

Hate speech is not an opinion

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Category: Activism, Council of Europe, European Action Day, Human Rights, News on the action day
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Human Rights Day is celebrated each year on 10 December on the occasion of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1948.

For 2016 the UN has adopted the slogan ‘Stand up for Someone’s Rights today!’. It argues that: ‘Many of us are fearful about the way the world is heading. Disrespect for basic human rights continues to be wide-spread in all parts of the globe. Extremist movements subject people to horrific violence. Messages of intolerance and hatred prey on our fears. Humane values are under attack. We must reaffirm our common humanity.’


Education and public debate are regarded as two fundamental pillars for Human Rights and Democracy to thrive, but only if conducted within a human rights framework, as articles 29 and 30 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights explains


  • Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible. In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society. (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 29)
  • Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein. (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 30)

It is important to remember that learning about our human rights and how to apply them in our daily life is a lifelong project as societies develop and communities change. The internet has accelerated this process by giving more information about the world around us and its people than ever before. These new online tools allow us to come together and express our thoughts easier and quicker.

But the internet provides also a new platform for hate speech to spread. Hate speech fuelled by intolerance, hatred and fear, threatens different Human Rights, including the right to free expression, of those that it targets. Hate Speech promote intolerance and discrimination, undermining human values, and does not provide a constructive contribution to the public debate. As the campaign in Germany points out: ‘Hass ist keine Meinung’ (Hate is not an opinion).

The Action Day invites us to challenge normalisation of hate speech  that exploits cultural, historical arguments or through inappropriate humor. It is  clearly that hate speech is not a human right, it violates other Human Rights and undermines human dignity and therefore . There is no neutral position when it comes to hate speech, people also take a stand by ignoring it. One can either support hate speech (including by remaining silent) or argue against it. The Action Day will focus on promoting Human Rights online, w, however offline (educational) activities will also be recommended on the topic of Human  Rights online.

The Action Day will aim to empower people to counter hate speech by providing a better understanding of Human Rights, including online, and of the impact of hate speech on Human Rights of all of us. As the Council of Europe Charter for Education for Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights Education explains:

  • An essential element of all education for democratic citizenship and human rights education is the promotion of social cohesion and intercultural dialogue and the valuing of diversity and equality, including gender equality; to this end, it is essential to develop knowledge, personal and social skills and understanding that reduce conflict, increase appreciation and understanding of the differences between faith and ethnic groups, build mutual respect for human dignity and shared values, encourage dialogue and promote non-violence in the resolution of problems and disputes.
  • One of the fundamental goals of all education for democratic citizenship and human rights education is not just equipping learners with knowledge, understanding and skills, but also empowering them with the readiness to take action in society in the defence and promotion of human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

The 10 December Action Day therefore supports the call to ‘Stand up for everybody’s Human  Rights, to raise awareness and educate for Human Rights online. The Council of Europe as the main European institution protecting and promoting Human Rights in Europe has developed instruments to safeguard the human rights and freedoms in its 47 member states. The promotion and defence of Human Rights are central to the Council of Europe’s work, notably through the European Convention on Human Rights (and the European Court on Human Rights) and the work of the Human Rights Commissioner.  All the work of the Council of Europe in the field of human rights is of direct relevance for the No Hate Speech Movement campaign and can also be promoted on 10 December.

Based on the above context the Action Day will aim to increase the understanding of the importance to stand for Human Rights online and the impact of hate speech on Human Rights for all of us through Human Rights Education and by mobilize youth to denounce hate speech and express solidarity.

The Action Day objectives include:

  • to denounce and highlight hate speech as violations and abuse of human rights, by singling out and explaining how hate speech undermines universal human rights,
  • to mobilize young people to stand up for Human Rights of individuals and groups targeted by online hate speech, to replace ignorance with reaction and solidarity,
  • to raise awareness about the importance of Human Rights online, and explain what it means for the Internet users, using the Council of Europe Guide for Internet Users
  • to promote Human Rights education tools that can empower young people how to prevent, counter and argue against hate speech when they are targeted or when they witness it,
  • to produce and share counter narratives for different hate speech patterns, giving arguments against hate speech and devaluing hate speech patterns in general,
  • to give visibility and celebrate people that speak up for Human Rights of others, counter hate speech online and offline, in the past and today though the initiative of UNITED for Intercultural Action,

Recommended Actions

  1. Promote Human Rights and solidarity building on the UN slogan ‘Stand up for Someone’s Rights Today! Write on your social media ‘I stand up for ‘fill in name of person or group’ Rights Today!. You can also write the slogan on a card and spread a selfie or group picture.
  2. Flag online hate speech content on Hate Speech Watch by adding your counter argument to the content and share it on your social media inviting others to reflect on your concern.
  3. Organise an offline activity or an educational activity from the manual Bookmarks to raise awareness and learn about Human Rights online.
  4. Share some of our counter narrative content elements (Blog posts, Human Rights Cards, Memes, Quiz on Human Rights, Videos, Guide for Internet Users) or if you want to produce something for the Action Day see the call for content.
  5. Upload your photo to the No Hate Chain to Stand for Human Rights online!
  6. Choose your own language version of the Red card to Hate Speech and post it on your social media today.

1 Comment

  1. Pingback: Euro-Mediterranean Resources Network | Human Rights Day 2016 – Euro-Mernet actions

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