ARTICLE 19 has launched a new guide at the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) on how States must tackle hatred through action to promote inclusion, diversity and pluralism. The briefing, ‘Tackling Hate: Action on UN standards to promote inclusion, diversity and pluralism’, sets out States’ international human rights law obligations and commitments, and other UN guidance, to give a full picture of the practical steps needed to protect the rights to freedom of expression and equality at the national level.
Speaking at the parallel event to the HRC, the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Dr Ahmed Shaheed, set out why an implementation agenda is needed to address the gulf between States’ international human rights obligations and the reality on the ground. This is essential if the international community is going to effectively address what the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has described as the spread of division and intolerance.
Dr Shaheed insisted that “the opposite of intolerance is not tolerance, it is inclusion.” This also reflected the remarks of Guiliana Natale, the Director of Global Affairs Canada: inclusion, diversity, and pluralism, are key to ensuring respect for all human rights of all people, including freedom of expression and equality.
ARTICLE 19 experts on the panel made clear that the various UN commitments and international standards that already exist mean little unless actors at the national level know about them and engage in their implementation.
This briefing is intended as a resource for all stakeholders, whether State or non-state actors, to pursue these same objectives at the national and international levels. Whether stakeholders are devising campaigns to counter hate, advocating for legal reforms to protect freedom of expression and equality, or engaging religious leaders or the media on their roles in promoting inclusion, the briefing sets out what States’ international obligations and commitments are, and how to translate this into action.
The launch coincides with negotiations at the HRC of key resolutions on freedom of religion or belief and on combating religious intolerance. ARTICLE 19 urges States to take a proactive and positive approach to the challenge of rising intolerance by promoting inclusion, diversity and pluralism to tackle hate.
In this respect, our guide puts forward recommendations for states in four distinct areas:
- States leading by example
- Adopt comprehensive national implementation plans on HRC Resolution 16/18 and the Rabat Plan of Action, and related HRC resolutions on freedom of religion or belief, with the full and effective participation of all stakeholders;
- Ensure an environment for open, robust debate and dialogue, including through a free and open Internet, in line with the rights to freedom of religion or belief, freedom of opinion and expression, and nondiscrimination, and encourage initiatives by other stakeholders to promote inclusion, diversity and pluralism, in line with HRC Resolution 16/18 and the Rabat Plan of Action;
- Prohibit the advocacy of discriminatory hatred constituting incitement to hostility, discrimination or violence in compliance with Articles 19(3) and 20(2) of the ICCPR and the guidance of the Rabat Plan of Action, recognising that this requires the repeal of blasphemy laws, the creation of equality bodies, and the enactment of comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation;
- Ensure accountability and redress for all human rights violations, in particular of the right to freedom of religion or belief, freedom of expression and equality.
- Mobilising all stakeholders
- Civil society, political and religious leaders, the media, and social media companies should create their own voluntary initiatives to promote inclusion, diversity and pluralism according to their own moral and social responsibilities, as identified in the Rabat Plan of Action and the Camden Principles on Freedom of Expression and Equality;
- All stakeholders should participate in multilateral initiatives to promote inclusion, diversity and pluralism, in particular to share and replicate good practice.
- Enhancing multilateral efforts
Various international mechanisms are in place to further the implementation of States’ international human rights obligations, as well as for dialogue and exchange to share and replicate good practice, as well as to address gaps in normative understandings of States’ obligations. The briefing sets out specific recommendations on how to:
- Improve effective implementation of HRC Resolution 16/18;
- Enhance the Istanbul Process;
- Mainstream implementation through other UN mechanisms.