France’s watered-down anti-hate speech law enters into force

by the URG team Blog, Blog, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues, In focus: democracy, In Focus: Human rights and religion

On 1 July a new French law entered into force that aims to regulate online hate speech. Known as the ‘Avia law’ after Laetitia Avia, the parliamentarian who drafted the original bill, the final law was significantly watered down during its passage through the lower house of parliament and the Senate, following opposition from free speech activists. Then, in an …

‘The stakes couldn’t be higher’: social media, disinformation, and the survival of democracy

by Danica Damplo, Universal Rights Group NYC Blog, Blog, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues, Universal Rights Group NYC

On 11 June United States Presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden posted the following tweet : He accused Facebook of failing to enact any real reforms to combat disinformation on its platform, with his campaign releasing an open letter for people to sign emphasising the role that disinformation – spread on Facebook – could have on the coming 2020 presidential election …

The UN Secretary-General calls for countering a ‘tsunami of hate’ in the wake of COVID-19

by Danica Damplo, Universal Rights Group NYC Blog, Blog, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues

On May 8 the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres launched a global Appeal to Address and Counter COVID-19 Hate Speech . A few days later, the UN published a Guidance Note on Addressing and Countering COVID-19 related Hate Speech . Both of these follow (and can build upon) steps taken by the UN in response to COVID-19, as well as the 2019 UN Plan of Action on Hate Speech . The SG’s appeal also comes amid an increased awareness of how hate speech and discrimination …

First private sector ‘Treaty Body’ launched by Facebook

by Marc Limon, Executive Director of the Universal Rights Group Blog, Blog, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues

Yesterday, beneath the radar of most diplomats at the UN, Facebook launched what is, in effect, a global first: a private sector-led human rights ‘Treaty Body’ designed to monitor its own compliance with international human rights standards. Specifically, the tech giant’s new ‘Oversight Board’ will review Facebook’s decisions about what content to ‘take down’ (because, for example, it constitutes ‘hate …

Misinformation, fake news and hate speech

Attacks on the integrity of democratic elections are not only a problem in the Global South. In established democracies like the UK and the US, the interplay of populism and technology (see below), coming against a backdrop of outdated election laws and mechanisms, has led to a rise in misinformation, ‘fake news’ and hate speech, especially online. This misinformation and …

‘Unfriending’ online hate: The contribution of the World Jewish Congress

by Leon Saltiel, WJC’s Representative in Geneva and Project Manager on Countering Antisemitism and Yfat Barak-Cheney, WJC’s Director of International Affairs Blog, Blog, By invitation, In Focus: Human rights and religion

There is little doubt that one of the modern world’s principal political challenges is the rise of hate speech, particularly in the cyber arena. Such hateful and intolerant expression, especially when widely circulated via the internet, promotes populism, extremism and radicalisation and deplorably leads to violence and murderous attacks. This incitement tears societies apart, threatens democracy and the rule of …

The UN Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech: tackling discrimination, hostility and violence

by Rodrigo Saad, former Universal Rights Group - NYC Blog, Blog, Universal Rights Group NYC

‘Hate speech is a challenge from which no country is immune,’ stated Adama Dieng, Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide at the launch event  of the  UN Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech . The system-wide strategy was launched amid a backdrop of surging levels of xenophobia, racism, and overall intolerance throughout the world. This trend has been amplified by social media and information communication technologies, which have …