Say No To Hate

In common language, “hate speech” loosely refer to offensive discourse targeting a group or an individual based on inherent characteristics - such as race, religion or gender - and that may threaten social peace.

Under International Human Rights Law, there is no universal definition of hate speech as the concept is still widely disputed especially in regards to its relation to freedom of opinion and expression, non-discrimination and equality.

With the aim to provide an unified framework for the UN system to address the issue globally, the United Nations Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech defines hate speech as…“any kind of communication in speech, writing or behaviour, that attacks or uses pejorative or discriminatory language with reference to a person or a group on the basis of who they are, in other words, based on their religion, ethnicity, nationality, race, colour, descent, gender or other identity factor.”

"Social media provides a global megaphone for hate."

- António Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General, 2021

As early as May 2020, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres raised the alarm about the “tsunami of hate and xenophobia, scapegoating and scaremongering around the world” that the Coronavirus pandemic unleashed and made a Global Appeal to address and counter the specific issue of COVID-19 related hate speech.

The UN guidance Note on Addressing and Countering COVID-19 related Hate Speech released shortly after clarifies that “‘COVID-19 related hate speech’ encompasses a broad range of disparaging expressions against certain individuals and groups that has emerged or been exacerbated as a result of the new coronavirus disease outbreak – from scapegoating, stereotyping, stigmatization and the use of derogatory, misogynistic, racist, xenophobic, Islamophobic or antisemitic language”. This hateful content is often accompanied with disinformation and misinformation in relation to the pandemic and disseminated through traditional and/or digital media.

In a context of a global health crisis, where access to safe and reliable information may be a matter of life or death, the consequences of COVID-19 related hate speech can be disastrous, in the short and the long run, and for both the targeted groups and the society at large. Covid-19 hate speech can significantly worsen pre-existing situations of inequalities, intolerance and discrimination - especially towards minorities and/or foreigners - and may expose those targeted to violence, social, political and economic exclusion - heightening the disproportionate effects of the pandemic even more on these underprivileged communities as a result. Covid-19 hate speech and disinformation may also lead to division and social unrest at a time when unity and cohesion are more needed than ever, in particular when instrumentalized by influential figures - like political and religious leaders - and/or when it is part of a coordinated effort to harm.

Goals we are supporting through this initiative