Skip to main content
call for input | Special Procedures

Call for input: Advocacy of Hatred Based on Religion or Belief - Transformative Responses

Issued by

Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief


29 October 2023

Purpose: To inform the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief’s thematic report to be delivered to the 55th session of the UN Human Rights Council.

At the heart of the United Nations’ concern with freedom of religion or belief lies the urgency of addressing hatred, intolerance, and discrimination based on religion or belief. This is recognised in the 1981 UN Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or belief (‘the 1981 Declaration’) and the resolution bringing into being the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief.

Article 2.2 of the 1981 Declaration defines intolerance and discrimination based on religion or belief as ‘any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on religion or belief and having as its purpose or as its effect nullification or impairment of the recognition, enjoyment or exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms on an equal basis.’

Subsequent resolutions of the Human Rights Council, including the resolution which most recently renewed this mandate, recognise religious hatred, intolerance and discrimination in this connection. Human Rights Council resolution 49/5 expressed deep concern at “[i]ncidents of religious hatred, discrimination, intolerance and violence, which may be manifested by derogatory stereotyping, negative profiling, and the stigmatization of individuals based on their religion or belief” as an obstacle to the enjoyment of the right to freedom of religion or belief.


In this forthcoming report, the Special Rapporteur intends to explore the dimension of hatred and its relationship to intolerance, discrimination, and violence based on religion or belief. She seeks to identify gaps in State and civil society responses to countering advocacy of such hatred, explore their impact, share best practices from the ongoing efforts of different stakeholders, and assess implications for developing transformative responses to counter the advocacy of hatred based on religion or belief.

The objective is to make visible the many forms which such hatred takes, their different legal implications, and how it burdens members of society – individually and collectively. What are the means by which such hate is spread, mutates, and is reproduced: What are the characteristics of these forms of hatred and how should legal and policy responses vary accordingly? Are both direct and indirect discrimination, including unchallenged and systematic discrimination, well understood? How can we better account for its psychological and psychosocial impacts, for example, as a manifestation of ‘cultural violence’?[1] In what ways are emerging technologies impacting the advocacy of hatred based on religion or belief both offline and online? Which type of intervention is better suited to which stage of the various forms that hatred takes? To what extent are limitations to our understanding of the scope of freedom of religion or belief failing to appreciate the impacts of hatred of on individuals and groups targeted on the basis of religion or belief, including minorities and indigenous peoples? How can we ensure that we uphold human rights – and particularly non-discrimination – in all our responses?

The report will seek to evaluate the effectiveness of State and non-State led actions at preventing and addressing different types of hatred, including through the training of State officials and law enforcement; formal and informal education, dedicated curricula and learning, awareness raising, access to information, media diversity, and digital literacy and inclusion programmes; legal steps, for example in relation to restrictions or prohibitions on related expression and access to justice; application of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights by corporate actors including by technology companies and social media platforms; dialogue, mediation and grassroots initiatives; and inclusion and empowerment of target groups.

Key questions and types of input/comments sought

The Special Rapporteur invites all interested parties (States, UN agencies and international organisations, national human rights institutions, businesses especially media and tech companies, civil society organisations including religious or belief minorities and communities) to provide input for this report in response to the relevant questions and requests identified below, by 29 October 2023. 

  1. How, if at all, is advocacy of hatred defined in legal and policy frameworks, and how does it relate to intolerance, discrimination, and violence based on religion or belief?
  2. To what extent are forms of hatred based on religion or belief perpetuated by broader prejudicial attitudes in society? What is the evidence base for this? Where do these prejudices emanate from?
  3. How are prejudicial attitudes among State actors, including law enforcement and justice operators, monitored, recognised and addressed? Please provide examples of the effectiveness, or otherwise, of such policies and practices.
  4. What are some of the instances and effects of the advocacy of hatred based on religion or belief:
    1. For adherents to various religions and beliefs, individually and collectively;
    2. Within religious and belief communities;
    3. In day-to-day violations or as embedded as drivers of marginalisation and violence;
    4. As crystallised into systemic and structural disadvantage against some target groups;
  5. How does hatred based on religion or belief overlap with other grounds of discrimination? How does it complicate the challenge and required responses?
  6. Are there particular times (e.g. religious festivals, election cycles, or times of heightened public anxiety such as terrorist attacks or economic recession); or particular actors (e.g. political, religious, social influencers); or particular forms (online, offline, films and theatre, school curricula); or particular objects and symbols - associated with manifestations of such hatred?
  7. How is hatred based on religion or belief countered at different levels, by State actors alone or in partnership with other actors, and to what effect? Have these resulted in prohibitions on expression and, if so, please detail how these measures are consistent with upholding international human rights obligations?
  8. Is there a role for religious and belief actors in countering advocacy to hatred based on religion or belief? Can you share some concrete examples?
  9. How are hatred, intolerance and discrimination based on religion or belief monitored – including with data – and how is this evidence base used to counter the negative effects that results? To what extent is this data used as a basis for policy design and implementation?
  10. Provide details of legislative initiatives and case law, public policies, programmes, and projects aimed at countering hatred, intolerance and discrimination – including through positive initiatives towards managing religious and belief diversity – to ensure social inclusion and respect for the rights of all. Examples may include education, media, mediation, and interfaith dialogue, and civil society initiatives.
  11. What efforts are underway to understand the structural and systematic basis of hatred, and how to transform those structures, in order to eliminate the roots of the cancer of hate? Where possible, please provide details of those mandated to carry out these efforts and how they have engaged with groups who are the targets of such advocacy of hatred.
  12. What efforts are underway to support targets of hatred, intolerance and discrimination based on religion or belief? Where possible, please provide details of the institutions, mechanisms and actors mandated to respond to the advocacy of hatred, along with budgets and performance indicators.
  13. Please provide information on the extent to which existing UN tools to counter hatred are used by the various stakeholders with a mandate to uphold human rights.
  14. What efforts are underway, or needed in your view, to ensure that ALL laws, policies, initiatives and efforts in this arena are rooted in an inclusive understanding of freedom of religion or belief for all and do not have a chilling effect on the full enjoyment of this right?
  15. Provide details where possible of civil society-led initiatives of the same.
How inputs will be used

Inputs will be used in conjunction with desk research to inform the structure and content of the thematic report. It is important to note that submissions may be referenced, quoted, and/or published with the report and in OHCHR website and thus become publicly accessible unless it is explicitly stated that this is not desirable.


[1] Galtung, J. (1990). Cultural Violence. Journal of Peace Research, 27(3), 291–305.

Next Steps

The Special Rapporteur requests that all submissions are written preferably in English or alternatively in French or Spanish. Submission should be a maximum of 2,500 words and should be submitted by Sunday 29 October 2023, via email to [email protected]

Email address:
[email protected]

Email subject line:
Input for HRC report – SRFORB

Word limit:
2500 words

File formats:
Word, PDF

Accepted languages:
English, Spanish, French