Workshop: Hate speech – Towards a comprehensive approach

Building sustainable cities and communities.

Workshop_Hate speech

In today’s world, Intercultural integration has become a pioneering policy. It aims to manage diversity in local and regional communities and thereby achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Among the many strategies implied by multi-level governance, dealing with hate speech is a perfect example of managing diversity to achieve the objectives set out in SDG 11.

Hate speech is as old as humanity. Throughout history, its harmful effects for individuals and for community cohesion have been contained by ethical rules and by institutional and media gatekeepers that limited the spread of hateful expression. However, the internet and social media have created a new situation where hate speech can spread at the speed of light; allowing it to reach billions of people and incite violence, self-harm, political upheaval, and inter-community hostility.

Different kinds of hate speech require different legal responses. This is why we need stronger legislation defining criminal, civil and administrative liabilities, as well as the responsibilities of different state and non-state actors in the prevention, education, support for and empowerment of victims, as well as for effective content moderation online.

We will not succeed unless we adopt a systemic approach that focuses on prevention to strengthen resilience against the toxic messaging and the falsehoods underlying hate speech in our society. This requires a genuine commitment by states and cooperation with key stakeholders like NGOs, the media sector, and cultural and educational institutions to promote intercultural competence and understanding, critical thinking, information literacy, and foster a human rights culture.

Comprehensive strategies are required to support victims who report hate speech, and to provide effective follow-up to these reports to increase trust in institutions, knowing that something can be done about it. Such comprehensive strategies against hate speech include self-regulatory mechanisms, for example, enforceable codes of conduct for political parties; that all contribute to the same goal – eliminating hate speech from public discourse, be it online or offline.

The workshop will be held on the 29th of October (10:30-11:30 CET) at the Maison Région Grand Est in Strasbourg (FR), and online. It is co-organised by the Council of Europe within the framework of the Intercultural Regions initiative and the Includ-EU Project. It will shed light on the strategies needed to address hate speech from a multi-level perspective, and on the need to increase the involvement of a broad cohort of stakeholders in initiatives related to the causes of hate speech within local and regional communities.

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