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United Nations, June 20 – UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for renewed efforts to counter the “toxic and destructive phenomenon” of hate speech, in a message to mark the second anniversary of the International Day for Countering Hate Speech.
“Hate speech is used to stoke fear and division, often for political gain, and at immense cost to communities and societies,” he said on Monday.
Guterres added that hate speech incites violence, exacerbates tensions, and impedes efforts to foster mediation and dialogue. It is one of the warning signs of genocide and other atrocity crimes, he said.
The UN chief’s message was delivered by Alice Wairimu Nderitu, the UN special adviser on the prevention of genocide, at a high-level event to commemorate the international day, which is officially observed on June 18, at the UN headquarters in New York.
Speaking at the event, UN General Assembly President Csaba Korosi said that countering hate speech is a key component of atrocity prevention, calling for more global action towards eradicating it, Xinhua news agency reported.
“Hate speech is an attack on human dignity and one of the most toxic forms of misinformation. We must address it because we know that hate speech leads to hate crimes,” he added.
Korosi noted that the International Day for Countering Hate Speech encourages everyone to do their part by identifying hate speech early, confronting it directly and halting it immediately.
In July 2021, the UN General Assembly highlighted global concerns over “the exponential spread and proliferation of hate speech” around the world and adopted a resolution on “promoting inter-religious and intercultural dialogue and tolerance in countering hate speech”.
The resolution proclaimed June 18 as the International Day for Countering Hate Speech.