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Council of Europe publishes new counter-narrative manual

The Council of Europe and its No Hate Speech Movement campaign have published a new manual on counter-narratives. The manual We CAN! Taking action against hate speech through counter and alternative narratives presents communicative and educational approaches and tools for youth and other human rights activists to develop their own counter and alternative narratives to hate speech.

“WE CAN! is the latest addition to our toolbox against hate.” Writes Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland in the manual’s preface. “The most damaging examples of hate speech are often grounded in simple stories, which are repeated over and over again in different forms. The migrants “taking our jobs” narrative, for example. Or the consistent claim, made by radicals, that Islam is “under attack”. Such narratives often remain unchallenged, either because they have become commonplace, or because they are delivered in sophisticated ways.”

The manual includes chapters dealing with the theoretical background behind deconstructing and countering narratives, as well as practical examples of actions that activists and organisations can take to effectively incorporate counter-narratives in their campaigns.

In recent years, UNITED has frequently worked on the topic of populist narratives, especially those concerning the influx of refugees in Europe. Our conference “Moving Stories: Narratives of Migration Crossing Europe“, which took place in Torino, Italy in April 2016, brought together experts and activists from all over Europe to debate the issue and come up with new ideas for combatting myths and populist narratives about migration. The conference was coordinated by Claudio Tocchi, who is one of the co-authors of the We CAN! manual, and also featured another of the manual’s co-authors, Ron Salaj, as an expert. This conference was followed by our #LifeSeekers campaign, which sought to counter populist narratives around migration by presenting alternative ways of looking at the problems confronting young people in Europe.

You can read the PDF version of the manual here, or find out more information here