Photo: NorwayUN/Marte Fløan Beisvåg.Photo: NorwayUN/Marte Fløan Beisvåg

Combating hate speech is everyone's responsibility

Last updated: 9/26/2013 // “Combating hate speech is everyone’s responsibility. It is also everyone’s problem,” said Espen Barth Eide, Minister of Foreign Affairs when he chaired the sixth annual Trygve Lie Symposium on Fundamental Freedoms today. This year’s symposium focused on the challenge of hate speech and what we can do to combat it.

Frank La Rue, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of expression and opinion, commented:

“Of course, the state has an legal obligation, but we as individuals have an ethical responsibility to share the promotion and protection of human rights of everyone.”

The goal of this year’s Trygve Lie Symposium was to stimulate new ideas on how we can jointly combat hate speech whilst safeguarding freedom of expression. Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide chaired the annual event at the International Peace Institute, while the following took part in the discussion:

  • Marty M. Natalegawa, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia
  • Frank La Rue, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Expression and Opinion
  • Sarah Wynn-Williams, Head of Global Public Policy, Facebook
  • Aidan White, Director of the Ethical Journalism Network
  • Caroline Criado-Perez, The Women's Room

In addition, Victor Mukasa, a Ugandan LGBT-activist, and Armand De Decker, Belgium’s Minister of State, presented interventions from the floor.

Watch the event online here:

The discussion showed a broad agreement on the need to take effective measures against the steady increase in hate speech directed towards women, minorities, LGBT persons and other vulnerable groups.

The participants agreed that education is essential and that we need to promote a culture of respect and tolerance. 

“As it’s heart hate speech is a societal problem and a cultural problem. If this is something we want to change, we need the whole of society to engage with it, and we need to look at all the aspects of our culture that are creating this kind of hatred,” said Caroline Criado-Perez. “Prevention is key,” she continued.

Watch photos from the symposium here.

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