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Countering Hate Crimes

“Atrocity crimes are rarely single events that happen instantly. Instead, they tend to be dynamic processes that require time, planning and resources to be put in place. It can take years to create an environment conducive to the perpetration of these crimes, even if the crimes might be committed within a short period of time.”
- Antonio Gutierres, Report on the prevention of genocide, 2019, A/HRC/41/24

Atrocity crimes don’t happen in a vacuum.


As Sheri Rosenberg said, "The Holocaust did not start with the gas chambers. It started with hate speech". Hate speech has been recognised as a powerful precursor to mass atrocities and human rights violations. The Holocaust, the Rwandan genocide and the Bosnian War have been clear examples of how hate speech can incite mass atrocities. More recently, cases such as the Rohingya genocide in Myanmar have highlighted new challenges in the monitoring and countering of hate speech in relation to new digital technologies.

What is Hate Speech?

Following the 2019 UN Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech, hate speech is recognised as “any kind of communication in speech, writing or behaviour, that attacks or uses pejorative or discriminatory language with reference to a person or a group on the basis of who they are, in other words, based on their religion, ethnicity, nationality, race, colour, descent, gender or other identity factors”. While hate speech contravenes international law only in the context of incitement, it is important to note that its presence can still be profoundly damaging to societal structures and processes. International bodies have also highlighted the importance of safeguarding protected groups in both offline and online spaces, where hate speech often flourishes unchallenged.

Learn more about hate speech in international law through our 2020 guide.


Monitoring hate speech, hate crimes and atrocity risk factors across both online and offline spaces.





Legal Challenges to Address Hate Speech

Supporting legal and policy approaches to incitement to violence that address the issues without infringing on freedom of speech.

Training To Counter Hate Speech

Strengthening local capacities through training and providing better tools to counter hate speech and discrimination across different areas of society.

Minority Group Participation

Involving minority groups who are targeted by discrimination and hate crimes in addressing these issues through the development of policies and laws.

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human rights and atrocity prevention.

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