U.S. ECOSOC Deputy Representative
New York, New York
June 19, 2023
Thank you, Mr. Ambassador and Madam Under Secretary General, and thank you also to all the distinguished speakers and panelists at this important commemoration of the second International Day on Countering Hate Speech.
Hate speech’s impact on communities and individuals can be devastating when it leads to targeting and exploiting the vulnerable with threats, exclusion, and discrimination. If left unaddressed, it can fray the social fabric and be an antecedent to wide-scale human rights violations, atrocities, and even genocide.
In taking steps to address hate speech, the strongest way to combat hateful speech is more speech – speech that promotes tolerance and unity.
The United States considers freedom of expression, whether exercised offline or online, a critical component of a vibrant, functioning democracy.
For this reason, it is enshrined in the United States Constitution.
Similarly, in this 75th anniversary year of the Universal Declaration of Human rights, we emphasize that international law enshrines the rights to freedoms of opinion and expression in both Article 19 of the UDHR and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Respecting freedom of expression fosters societies that are more informed, resilient, stable, and tolerant; where there is space including through a free press for the broadest possible diversity of voices, viewpoints, values, interests, and ideas.
Two essential strategies to combat the spread of toxic expressions of hatred, are truth-telling – standing up and responding to hate speech with facts – and promoting education to counteract the negative effects of hate speech.
Recognizing that individuals of racial, ethnic, Indigenous, religious, LGBTQI+, and other marginalized groups are often the targets of hate speech, we celebrate our diversity as a nation through activities such as the commemoration of emancipation from enslavement with Juneteenth, which Americans celebrate today. Such celebrations acknowledge and address the problem of hate speech and the violence it can manifest through dialogue while correcting prejudices and building bridges.
We also advise citizens to know the origin of their information, including the viewpoint and motivation of the source, and seek out multiple sources. The public is best served by thinking critically about their own assumptions and by considering how others may try to influence them. One of the best defenses against hate speech is a free and transparent news media environment, which is why the United States builds global resiliency to disinformation.
Whether Member States, civil society, the private sector, media and internet corporations, religious actors, educators, or individuals affected by hate speech, we all have the moral duty to speak out firmly against instances of hate speech and reject calls to violence.