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International legal and institutional framework - 13th Session of the Forum on Minority Issues
19 Nov 2020 -  Item 3: International legal and institutional framework

Although there is no international legal definition of hate speech, international law prohibits advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes an incitement to discrimination, hostility and violence. In the absence of such a definition, the term “hate speech” may risk being abused to impose uniformity of views, curtailing dissent and shrinking civic space. It is thus essential to also ensure the protection of the right to freedom of expression when addressing hate speech. Freedom of expression is only subject to a very small number of strict permissible restrictions under international law.
Participants will discuss the relevant international human rights obligations, in particular the importance of ensuring the complementarity between articles 19 (freedom of expression) and 20 (prohibition of advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and articles 4 (prohibition of incitement to racial discrimination and hatred) and 5 (the right of everyone to enjoy, inter alia, the freedom of opinion and expression) of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
They will discuss how legislative, human rights and institutional frameworks can address impunity and ensure accountability for hate crimes against minorities that are triggered by online hate speech. Participants will offer possible effective solutions, inter alia, within the context of implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 16, which is aimed at promoting peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development; providing access to justice for all; and building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.
In order to further clarify the international norms, participants will consider:
(a) Human Rights Committee general comment No. 34 (2011) on the freedoms of opinion and expression (CCPR/C/GC/34);
(b) Human Rights Committee general recommendation No. 35 (2013) on combating racist hate speech (CERD/C/GC/35);
(c) Rabat Plan of Action on the prohibition of advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence (A/HRC/22/17/Add.4, appendix);
(d) Beirut Declaration on Faith for Rights and its 18 commitments (A/HRC/40/58, annexes I and II).
• Mr. Tarlach McGonagle, Professor of law at the Universities of Leiden and Amsterdam
• Mr. Sangyun Kim, Professor of law at the Graduate School of Ryukoku University, Kyoto, Japan
• Ms. Agustina Del Campo, Director, Center for Studies on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information (CELE), Universidad de Palermo, Buenos Aires

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