Delivered By: Her Excellency Lana Nusseibeh, Ambassador and Permanent Representative
Thank you Ambassdor Hilale, and at the outset, I would like to thank the Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Morocco and the United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect, for co-organising this important event today.
I also wish to thank the excellent panellists that we’ve just heard from, including our good friend, Dr. Leah Pisar, and the excellent work of The Aladdin Organisation.
I’d like to thank the Kingdom of Morocco specifically for its pioneering role in countering hate speech. The resolution you brought forward to the General Assembly was an important milestone in advancing global efforts to address hate speech in all its forms.
By proclaiming a dedicated International Day for Countering Hate Speech, we are encouraged never to forget the vital importance of these efforts. From Rwanda, to Afghanistan, to the Former Yugoslavia, we’ve seen just how crucial these efforts are to counter root causes of violence against people and communities.
Excellencies and colleagues, as we’ve just heard now, words matter.
And though the root causes of conflicts – past and present – are multifaceted, we continue to see hate speech as a threat multiplier driving the outbreak, escalation, and recurrence of conflict globally.
Hate speech, as the manifestation of racism, or intolerance, or extremism, stokes tensions and fuels grievances, giving rise to conflict.
We’ve seen the exploitation of print, broadcast, and digital media to incite hatred in recent times, and we’ve witnessed digital technologies creating these echo chambers that spread misinformation and disinformation further and faster.
Entire communities are dehumanised in the process.
When hate speech goes unchecked, hatred and prejudice is passed down through generations, paving the way for this driver of conflict to take hold once again.
Tolerance and peaceful coexistence are the antidotes to hate speech, and that is why the UAE and the UK co-authored the landmark Security Council resolution on ‘Tolerance and International Peace and Security’ adopted last week.
Resolution 2686 is the first of its kind to recognise that hate speech and extremism can drive the outbreak, escalation, and recurrence of conflict.
It is also the first Security Council resolution to adopt a cross-cutting approach to countering hate speech and extremism across the files on the Security Council’s agenda.
And it’s the first resolution to address Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, and Christianophobia, which was long overdue in Council discourse.
Importantly, it urges States and international and regional organisations to publicly condemn hate speech and extremism.
Countering hate speech it is not to limit freedom of expression, it should not in turn be met with fear. In fact, it is about addressing hate speech in a manner that addresses and respects international human rights law, including the right to freedom of expression.
And the UN itself is not immune to the hate speech contagion.
Last year, a survey found that 75 per cent of UN peacekeepers see misinformation and disinformation as a direct threat to their safety and security. It’s clear that this leads to a weakening of those who are present on the ground to protect already vulnerable societies.
As such, the resolution also requests that UN peacekeeping and UN special political missions monitor and report on hate speech and extremism in their regular reports, and it also requests reporting by the Secretary-General on hate speech and extremism in peacekeeping and political missions.
With the unanimous adoption of this resolution by all fifteen Members of the Security Council on 14 June, the Security Council sent a unified message last week that the values of tolerance and peaceful coexistence are the foundation upon which lasting peace can and must be built. Hate speech has no place in secure and peaceful societies.
This was a historic moment, but there is much work to be done and we must keep the momentum going. Resolution 2686 encourages States to develop and share good practices and effective strategies. It also promotes the empowerment of key stakeholders who can speak out against hate speech and promote tolerance and peaceful coexistence, including religious and community leaders, women, youth, civil society, and media and social media entities.
The UAE’s really looking forward to working constructively with all such stakeholders, including Member States here today, in driving this important agenda forward, and I thank you.