General Debate under Item 9 :
General Debate Item 9: Violence and Hate Speech
19 March 2019
Oral Statement by: International-Lawyers.org and Geneva International Centre for Justice (GICJ)
We thank the Intergovernmental Working Group on the Effective Implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action for its recent report.
We particularly note their call to States to implement legislation criminalizing racist and xenophobic hate speech, which incites violence, endangering all of society. We also highlight the report’s recommendation that States focus on education and awareness of prejudices that may develop into racism, breed hateful speech, and provoke extreme violence.
We emphasize that these prejudices may be conscious or unconscious, and recognition of both prerequisites of intolerant behavior is essential.
Hate speech legitimizes and fuels extreme violence, as seen all-too-recently in the mass murder of Muslim worshippers in New Zealand.
We cannot accept these acts without affirmative action of our own in support of the victims and survivors. Political leaders must fight the structural foundations of racism and xenophobia.
Just as leaders can fan the flames of racism, they can likewise effectively guide our discourse and behavior toward that of tolerance and inclusion through considered, moral leadership.
Mr. President, International-Lawyers.org and the Geneva International Centre for Justice strongly believe racism, xenophobia, and the hate speech that drives these phenomenon, are systemic problems that need systemic solutions.
We urge the Council to redouble all necessary efforts to eliminate racism and quash violence-inciting hate speech on every level as well as to promote justice for all survivors of hate-based violence.