16 October, 2014

MESSAGE of the No Hate Forum

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Category: Conclusion, Europe, European Campaign Conference, Forum
Community Manager
3 pm

20141004_100809We, youth and human rights activists, national co-ordinators and partners of the Council of Europe No Hate Speech Movement youth campaign, came together in the forum held in Gabala, Azerbaijan, from 1 to 5 October 2014 to put our experiences and expectations at the service of the campaign. The forum was co-organised by the Council of Europe Youth Department and the Ministry of Youth and Sport of Azerbaijan in the context of the Azerbaijan Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, in cooperation with the National Assembly of Youth Organisations of the Republic of Azerbaijan.


Young people are often overlooked as agents of social change. From its inception this campaign has been led by young people who have put their creativity, talents and energy at the service of the common good. We are running this campaign because we believe that dignity and human rights apply in all spheres of life, including on the Internet. We campaign together because online hate speech is a global issue which knows no borders: the Internet is also part of public space. We work together because we believe in positive change: hate speech can be and needs to be addressed, combated and prevented.

Europe is going through a deep human rights crisis, which could become a crisis of faith in human rights as our common asset. Antigypsyism, antisemitism, disablism, homo/transphobia, islamophobia, sexism, racism, xenophobia and segregation are on the rise in our societies. Hate speech contributes to this rise. Hate speech also leads to hate crimes whose victims are usually among the most vulnerable groups and people. We cannot be indifferent to this. The Council of Europe must stand firm as the guardian and reference point for human rights everywhere in Europe. Democratic security needs to be rooted in a culture of human rights, and this has to include cyberspace.

We are campaigning for human rights online with very disparate means and support from the governmental authorities. Promoting human rights online cannot be the task of volunteers and non-governmental organisations alone. Public institutions, including those involved in youth policy, must support and stand by the side of activists. We have been encouraged by the support expressed by the Secretary General, the Parliamentary Assembly, the Human Rights Commissioner and the Chairmanships of the Committee of Ministers. We remain determined to reduce acceptance of hate speech online as “normal” and to mobilise young people to this task. We want to develop online youth participation and citizenship, including in Internet governance processes. We expect the Council of Europe and its member states to be equally committed to developing policies and actions to make this effective. Politicians and public figures must show responsibility by refraining from using hate speech and by condemning all occurrences.

Combating hate speech and supporting a culture of human rights requires investment in education, especially education for democratic citizenship and human rights. Education is the life insurance of our democracies; we cannot eradicate hate speech from the Internet, but through education we can limit its occurrence and impact. We have learned that addressing online hate speech means involving a variety of stakeholders and parties, including online media networks and businesses. We need the Council of Europe to further engage these bodies in prioritising human rights and dignity and reminding them of their responsibilities. Human rights online are everyone’s business. We are alarmed by the scale of hate speech in armed conflicts, also as a weapon of propaganda. The Internet amplifies the impact. Hate speech reinforces inter-ethnic hatred and prejudice to levels which make reconciliation and conflict transformation very difficult.

Our common campaign is not over. We call upon the Council of Europe and its members states to:

  1. Recognise online hate speech, including cyberbullying, as a serious issue that impacts severely on individuals and on the health of democracies. Member states must renew their commitment to the campaign by providing it with sufficient resources. Those not yet involved in it should be encouraged to start their own campaigns.
  2. Revise the Council of Europe definition of hate speech to include the online dimension and acknowledge Antigypsyism, disablism, sexism, discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and islamophobia as common forms of hate speech.
  3. Apply and inform about existing legal instruments against online racism and xenophobia.
  4. Support the full involvement of young people in Internet governance matters and facilitate dialogue with other stakeholders.
  5. Adopt 22 July as European Day for the Remembrance of Victims of Hate Crime and work with victims and campaign partners to commemorate this day.
  6. Develop education and awareness-raising tools to counter or limit the impact of hate speech in armed conflicts and to address inter-ethnic hatred and conflicts.
  7. Address the root causes of radicalisation among certain young people and develop prevention measures based on youth work, education and empowerment. Develop support programmes for victims of hate speech and hate crime.
  8. Support the role and the work of online human rights activists and offer effective protection for human rights defenders and “whistle-blowers” of human rights violations.
  9. Map, monitor and condemn hate speech, with particular attention to its use in political discourse and by opinion-leaders.
  10. Include awareness of hate speech within education programmes and strengthen human rights education with netcitizenship contents.
  11. Include hate speech as a component of anti-discrimination programmes and policies.
  12. Propose a code of conduct for Internet service providers, and online and social media.

Combating hate speech is a long-term task that must go beyond the campaign. It will require the full attention of the Council of Europe, its member states and citizens to make sure that the achievements of our movement will have a multiplying effect and contribute to a better Internet and a better Europe for everyone.

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  1. Pingback: Forum of the No Hate Speech Movement | Pavee Point Traveller and Roma CentrePavee Point Traveller and Roma Centre

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