International Day for Countering Hate Speech Date in the current year: June 18, 2024

International Day for Countering Hate Speech The International Day for Countering Hate Speech is a United Nations observance marked annually on June 18. It was established by the UN General Assembly in 2021 in order to stop the spread of hate speech and promote intercultural and inter-religious dialogue.

Hate speech has no international legal definition, and there has been much dispute over what can be considered “hateful”. According to the Cambridge Dictionary, hate speech is “public speech that expresses hate or encourages violence towards a person or group based on something such as race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation”. The United Nation defines it as “any kind of communication in speech, writing or behavior, that attacks or uses pejorative or discriminatory language with a reference to a person or a group on the basis or who they are”.

In other words, hate speech is an attack on a person or a group of people based on one or more of their identity factors such as descent, ethnicity, gender identity, language, nationality, race, religion, sexual orientation, skin color, etc. A reflection of prejudice and xenophobia, hate speech causes significant emotional and psychological harm to people affected by it and therefore is criminalized in a number of countries.

According to the United Nations, hate speech has been on the rise lately, affecting societies at large. It has the potential to undermine tolerance people have been fighting for and incite violence. People have been aware of the devastating effect of hate speech for a long time, but new communication technologies enable it to spread like wildfire, turning hate speech into a tool used to disseminate divisive ideologies.

Some people defend their right to use hate speech citing freedom of opinion and expression. However, one person’s freedom ends where another person’s begins. When someone weaponizes their right to free speech by using it to hurt others and violate their fundamental rights, they must be stopped before their hate speech results in hate crimes.

When hate speech is met with silence that applies indifference or even acceptance, it can lead to physical violence and acts of terrorism. A lot of atrocity crimes over the past 75 years, including genocide, were preceded by hate speech aimed at certain groups of people that had laid the foundation for violence and crimes against humanity.

In July 2021, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution intended to promote inter-religious and intercultural dialogue and tolerance in countering hate speech. One of the items in the resolution designated June 18 as the International Day for Countering Hate Speech. It was observed for the first time on June 18, 2022.

The date of June 18 was chosen to commemorate the launch of the United Nations Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech on this day in 2019. The document was developed and launched to respond to disturbing trends of growing violent misogyny, racism and intolerance, xenophobia, anti-Muslim hatred and anti-Semitism across the world. Its main goal is to address and counter hate speech at all levels.

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International Day for Countering Hate Speech, international observances, UN observances, UN Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech