The UN’s War On Free Speech Begins

UN Launches All-out War on Free Speech
by Judith Bergman

  • In other words, forget everything about the free exchange of ideas: the UN feels that its ‘values’ are being threatened and those who criticize those values must therefore be shut down.
  • Naturally, the UN assures everyone that, “Addressing hate speech does not mean limiting or prohibiting freedom of speech. It means keeping hate speech from escalating into something more dangerous, particularly incitement to discrimination, hostility and violence, which is prohibited under international law”.
  • Except the UN most definitely seeks to prohibit freedom of speech, especially the kind that challenges the UN’s agendas. This was evident with regard to the UN Global Compact on Migration, in which it was explicitly stated that public funding to “media outlets that systematically promote intolerance, xenophobia, racism and other forms of discrimination towards migrants” should be stopped.
  • In contrast to the UN Global Migration compact, the UN’s action plan against hate speech does contain a definition of what the UN considers to be “hate” and it happens to be the broadest and vaguest of definitions possible: “Any kind of communication in speech, writing or behaviour, that attacks or uses pejorative or discriminatory language with reference to a person or a group on the basis of who they are, in other words, based on their religion, ethnicity, nationality, race, colour, descent, gender or other identity factor”. With a definition as broad as this, all speech could be labelled “hate”.
  • The new action plan plays straight into the OIC’s decades-long attempts to ban criticism of Islam as ‘hate speech’. In the wake of the launch of Guterres’ action plan, Pakistan has already presented a six-point plan “to address the new manifestations of racism and faith-based hatred, especially Islamophobia” at the United Nations headquarters. The presentation was organized by Pakistan along with Turkey, the Holy See and the UN.

In January, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, tasked his Special Adviser for the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, to “present a global plan of action against hate speech and hate crimes on a fast-track basis”. Speaking at a press conference about the UN’s challenges for 2019, Guterres maintained, “The biggest challenge that governments and institutions face today is to show that we care — and to mobilize solutions that respond to people’s fears and anxieties with answers…” One of those answers, Guterres appeared to suggest, is shutting down free speech. “We need to enlist every segment of society in the battle for values that our world faces today – and, in particular, to tackle the rise of hate speech, xenophobia and intolerance. We hear troubling, hateful echoes of eras long past” Guterres said, “Poisonous views are penetrating political debates and polluting the mainstream. Let’s never forget the lessons of the 1930s. Hate speech and hate crimes are direct threats to human rights…” Now the action plan that Guterres spoke of in January is ready. On June 18, Guterres presented the United Nations Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech: “Hate speech is…an attack on tolerance, inclusion, diversity and the very essence of our human rights norms and principles,” Guterres said. He also wrote in an article on the subject, “To those who insist on using fear to divide communities, we must say: diversity is a richness, never a threat…We must never forget, after all, that each of us is an “other” to someone, somewhere”. Except the UN most definitely seeks to limit freedom of speech, especially the kind that challenges the UN’s agendas. This was evident with regard to the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration in which it was explicitly stated that public funding to “media outlets that systematically promote intolerance, xenophobia, racism and other forms of discrimination towards migrants” should be stopped. The new action plan plays straight into the decades-long attempts of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to ban criticism of Islam. In the wake of the launch of Guterres’ action plan, Pakistan has already presented a six-point plan “to address the new manifestations of racism and faith-based hatred, especially Islamophobia” at the United Nations headquarters. The presentation was organized by Pakistan along with Turkey, the Holy See and the UN.
At the UN, Pakistan’s Ambassador Lodhi called for government interventions to fight hate speech, including national legislation, and reportedly “called for framing a more focused strategy to deal with the various expressions of Islamophobia. A ‘whole of government’ and a ‘whole of society’ approach was needed. In this regard, the Pakistani envoy urged the secretary-general to engage with a wide range of actors, including governments, civil society and social media companies to take action and stop social media users being funneled into online sources of radicalization”.
The UN’s all-out war on free speech is on.

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