UNITED has played a key role in the Council of Europe’s “No Hate Speech Movement” campaign since its inception. UNITED representatives on the CoE’s Advisory Council on Youth were vital to the establishment of the project, which was partly inspired by UNITED’s study session “Step In! Be active against racist propaganda and hate speech online”, which took place at the Youth Centre of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg in 2012. Since then, UNITED representatives have taken key roles in coordinating the campaign, and many NHSM activists have also taken part in UNITED campaigns and conferences. UNITED organised a further CoE study session on the topic, “(Re)Act for equal opportunities online and offline” in Strasbourg in 2015.
Internet offers us the possibility to create, publish, distribute and consume media content fostering therefore a space of full participation, engagement and self-expression. With the development of social networks we all can participate in cyberspace in a variety of ways ranging from keeping in touch with your friends and developing new contacts to sharing content and exploring your self-expression. This online space gives us new opportunities: engaging with others for causes that we care for. But we may equally be victim and agent of abuse and human rights violations, among them, hate speech in various forms and cyberbullying. The online world is not without values either. Hate speech* as such is not a new issue on the Internet, nor in the human rights debate. Its online dimension and the potential damage on democratic processes gives us all new reasons to act.
“Hate speech, as defined by the Council of Europe, covers all forms of expression which spread, incite, promote or justify racial hatred, xenophobia, anti-Semitism or other forms of hatred based on intolerance, including: intolerance expressed by aggressive nationalism and ethnocentrism, discrimination and hostility against minorities, migrants and people of immigrant origin.”
The Campaign is part of the project Young People Combating Hate Speech Online running between 2012 and 2014. The project stands for equality, dignity, human rights and diversity. It is a project against hate speech, racism and discrimination in their online expression.
The working methods are awareness raising, advocacy, and it also seeks for creative solutions. It is a project for action and intervention. The project equips young people and youth organisations with the competences necessary to recognize and act against such human rights violations.
The whole project is a tribute to youth participation and co-management. It was born from a proposal of the youth representatives of the Advisory Council on Youth and was endorsed by the Joint Council on Youth, which brings together the members of the Advisory Council on Youth and the governmental youth representatives of the European Steering Committee on Youth. For more details on the project you can visit the Campaign coordination site.