General Assembly

Abdulla Shahid (General Assembly President) at…

Abdulla Shahid (General Assembly President) at the Informal High-Level Meeting of the General Assembly on Countering Hate Speech

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Opening remarks by Abdulla Shahid, President of the General Assembly, at the Informal High-Level Meeting of the General Assembly on Countering Hate Speech.
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Excellencies,

Distinguished delegates,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my honor to welcome you all to this High-Level Meeting to commemorate the first International Day for Countering Hate Speech – celebrated on 18 June. 

Although this trend is not new, cyberspace and social media together with the proliferation of disinformation and fake news have aggravated the effects of hate speech to unprecedented heights.

This dangerous trend only serves to divide us at a time when we need unity more than ever.

For this reason, I take great pride in opening today's observance, and I commend the dedication displayed by Member States in tackling this issue, which threatens to tear us apart.

To address this challenge in a comprehensive manner, we must cultivate our global cooperation and stand united – embracing the collective spirit that this great institution was designed to foster, and that Hate Speech seeks to undermine.

Hate Speech is an inherent threat to our values and principles.

It increases vulnerability to violence and heightens exposure to exclusion and discrimination – exacerbating underlying inequalities and undermining social cohesion.

We cannot let the word "speech" fool us: this trend has grave material consequences on the lives of those it targets and has particularly adverse effects on those most vulnerable.

Whether rooted in racism, religious persecution, or other forms of prejudice, hate speech has the power to upend the safety and quality of life of individuals and entire communities.

Excellencies,

Tackling the root causes and social impacts of hate speech requires a multi-stakeholder approach from governments, civil society, academia, media, the private sector, through tech and social media companies, religious leaders, as well as the victims and affected communities.

I encourage Member States to bolster interreligious and intercultural dialogue, respect for diversity, and the elimination of discrimination based on race, gender, religion or ethnicity, by emphasizing the values of peace, tolerance, and mutual understanding.

Friends,

Let's work together to implement the United Nations Strategy and Plan of Action against Hate Speech which sets out a framework to counter hate speech in a manner consistent with international human rights standards, while protecting freedom of opinion and expression.

The United Nations was born out of a fundamental necessity to combat hate.

Since its inception, the UN has upheld its fight against hate as the bedrock of its mission to guarantee human rights for all.

We are gathered today to raise awareness on this issue and to galvanize political strategies to identify and counter hate-speech at the national and global levels.

Excellencies, I urge you to take today's conversation and build on it, to end Hate Speech and to strengthen our communities' resiliency so they can cope when it does occur.

I look forward to seeing how we can translate the outcomes of today's discussion into a movement to end Hate Speech.

I thank you.

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