Hate Speech and Incitement to Genocide

We took part in two major events on incitement in February. At UN headquarters in New York, more than 100 invited guests watched four panelists including Dangerous Speech Project Director Susan Benesch discuss Hate Speech and Incitement to Genocide on Feb 1. The diverse and engaged audience continued asking questions even after the interpreters had to quit work, under UN rules. Four days later, at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) in Washington, D.C., the same panelists met for another discussion.

Both events were jointly sponsored by the USHMM, the United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression, and the Permanent Mission of Norway to the United Nations. The panels considered the distinction between hate speech and incitement to violence, and focused especially on the best ways to limit the harmful effects of speech without infringing on freedom of expression.

The UN panel is available online at the UN Web TV archive. Featured speakers included the following.

New York Welcome: Ambassador Geir O. Pedersen, Permanent Mission of Norway to the United Nations

New York Moderator: Santiago Canton, Program Director, Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights

DC Welcome: Sara Bloomfield, Director, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, and Ambassador Wegger Chr. Strommen, Royal Norwegian Embassy

DC Moderator: Michael Abramowitz, Genocide Prevention Program Director, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum

Panelists:

• Susan Benesch, Genocide Prevention Fellow, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and Founder, Dangerous Speech Project, World Policy Institute.

• Adama Dieng, United Nations Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide.

• Frank LaRue, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression.

• George Weiss, Founder, Radio La Benevolencija Humanitarian Tools Foundation (La Benevolencija), a Dutch NGO that uses edutainment and psycho‐education to combat hate speech and empower victims in Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

• Aidan White, founding Director, Ethical Journalism Network, a global campaign to promote ethics and good governance across all media platforms.

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