2011 Expert workshops on the prohibition of incitement to national, racial or religious hatred

As noted in the Durban Review Conference Outcome Document, OHCHR organized in 2011 a series of expert workshops on freedom of expression and the prohibition of incitement to national, racial or religious hatred as reflected in articles 19 and 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (see the historic documents on its drafting process, the travaux préparatoires).

In doing so, OHCHR aimed to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the implementation of legislation, jurisprudence and policies regarding incitement to national, racial or religious hatred at the national and regional levels, while encouraging full respect for freedom of expression as protected by international human rights law. This activity focused on the demarcation between freedom of expression and hate speech, especially in relation to religious issues – a matter that has unfortunately come increasingly under focus and created friction among diverse communities.

Participants discussed strategic responses to hate speech, which in addition to legal measures could include systematic monitoring and data gathering to facilitate early warning, self-regulation by the media, awareness-raising campaigns by governments, training of law enforcement officers and judges, and promoting tolerance through education.

The Special Rapporteurs on Freedom of Expression and Opinion, on Freedom of Religion or Belief, and on Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, as well as members of the Human Rights Committee and the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) participated in the various workshops. The High Commissioner for Human Rights gave an opening statement at the start of each workshop.

Europe (Vienna, 9-10 February 2011):

Africa (Nairobi, 6-7 April 2011):

Asia Pacific (Bangkok, 6-7 July 2011):

Workshop for the Americas (Santiago, 12-13 October 2011):

OHCHR and the Rabat Plan of Action
Key documents