Across the world today, discriminatory practices and hateful messages serve to stigmatize and vilify those perceived to be the “other”, the “foreigner” or the “one who does not belong”. Most of those targeted by these messages are minorities – overwhelmingly so. Among the key findings of the most recent 2018 Hate Crime Data covering European and other countries of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe indicate that more than 76% of hate crimes involve Jewish, Muslim, and other ethnic and religious minorities, with 4405 out of 5735 reported incidents.
Such expressions of hate and discrimination increasingly dominate political agendas and discourses, and are mainstreamed through public life, creating a climate of fear amongst individuals and communities. They can at times also create a climate of rejection, exclusion and even intolerance, threatening societal values and undermining the respect of human dignity and the protection of human rights. This type of speech, often called hate speech, in most cases target persons belonging to minorities, who are portrayed as a threat to national unity, societal harmony, national security and public order, or who are subjected to discrimination because of their distinct ethno-cultural identities, religions or languages.
Digital technologies and social media platform owners may play a role in contributing to hate speech and undermining human rights. Indeed, in recent times, there have been numerous and flagrant examples of the “rallying power” of social media platforms being abused to spread hatred, unfounded and stigmatizing rumours, fostering a climate of insecurity and animosity, and in the most extreme cases, leading to violent campaigns against members of minorities. Such unregulated online expressions of hate can result in or increase the chances of human rights violations taking place offline against some of the most vulnerable segments of society.
The full concept note for the 2020 Regional Forums is available here.
The main purpose of the European Regional Forum on “Hate Speech, Social Media and Minorities” is to provide European regional insights, which will feed into the thematic work of the Special Rapporteur on minority issues for his report to the 46th session of the UN Human Rights Council in March 2021. Furthermore, discussions at the Regional Forum will also inform the work and recommendations of the 13th Session of the UN Forum on Minority Issues, which will take place in Geneva, on 19 and 20 November 2020.
The European Regional Forum should have the following five more specific objectives:
Date and Venue
Date: 21st and 22nd September 2020
The European Regional Forum shall be open to the participation of states; intergovernmental organizations including United Nations agencies and mechanisms; national human rights institutions and other relevant national bodies; academics and experts on minority issues; representatives of minorities as well as civil society organizations specializing in minority issues.
Participation is open to individuals involved in minority issues in the European region (see list of eligible countries here), and with a clear focus and expertise on hate speech, social media and minorities.
All individual participants must register online here. Registration will close at 11pm CEST, Wednesday 16th September.
When registering, participants are required to indicate during which working group or groups they would like to make a statement.
It is encouraged to submit any proposed recommendations in advance of the European Regional Forum to
The European Regional Forum will be an online event. Further details for joining the meeting will be sent following confirmation of registration.
Areas of Discussion
In light of the main objectives of the regional forums, the discussions will address the following overarching themes. These will be informed by the framework of international human rights law and standards:
Based on the discussions and the contributions of the participants, the main output produced from the European Regional Forum will be a document with practical recommendations reflective of regional contexts and challenges.