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UN minorities forum to tackle explosion of hate speech in social media

17 November 2020

GENEVA (17 November 2020) – The scourge of hate speech in social media targeting minorities, which has contributed to discrimination, hostility and violence around the world, will be the focus of the 13th UN Forum on Minority Issues to be held on 19-20 November.

Guided by the UN Special Rapporteur on minority issues, Fernand de Varennes, and chaired by hate speech expert, Natalie Alkiviadou, participants will discuss the critical challenges of tackling hate speech, xenophobic rhetoric and incitement to hatred against minorities.

"These issues are of urgent concern as misinformation and disinformation often propagate conspiracies involving and scapegoating of minorities, preparing the ground for atrocities," said de Varennes.

Among those joining the Forum will be officials from governments, the UN, intergovernmental, national and regional organisations, and civil society.

Speakers will include:

  • Elisabeth Tichy-Fisslberger, President of the UN Human Rights Council,
  • Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights,
  • Pramila Patten, Acting Special Adviser to the UN Secretary General on the Prevention of Genocide

This year's agenda will focus on:

  • Causes, scale and impact of hate speech targeting minorities in social media
  • International legal and institutional framework
  • Regulation of online hate speech: the role and responsibility of intergovernmental organisations, States, internet companies and social media platforms
  • Towards a safer space for minorities: positive initiatives to address online hate speech: the role of NHRIs, human rights organizations, civil society and other stakeholders.

The virtual discussions will help the Special Rapporteur frame recommendations to be presented to the UN Human Rights Council in March 2020.

The Forum can be viewed on UN Web TV. It is open to media, and interviews can be arranged with forum participants.

For more information, including the programme and participating speakers and organisations, please visit:



Background: Pursuant to Human Rights Council resolution 6/15 of 28 September 2007 renewed by resolution 19/23 of 23 March 2012, a forum on minority issues has been established to provide a platform for promoting dialogue and cooperation on issues pertaining to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities, as well as thematic contributions and expertise to the work of the Special Rapporteur on minority issues. The Forum shall identify and analyse best practices, challenges, opportunities and initiatives for the further implementation of the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities.

The Forum meets annually for two working days allocated to thematic discussions. The Special Rapporteur on minority issues, Mr Fernand de Varennes, is tasked to guide the work of the Forum, prepare its annual meetings and report on the thematic recommendations of the Forum to the Human Rights Council.

Fernand de Varennes was appointed as UN Special Rapporteur on minority issues by the Human Rights Council in June 2017. He is tasked by the UN Human Rights Council, to promote the implementation of the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities, among other things.

The Special Rapporteurs and Working Groups are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council's independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures' experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

For additional information and media requests please contact:

the Forum Secretariat at: +41 22 917 9181 / [email protected]).

For media enquiries regarding other UN independent experts, please contact Renato de Souza (+41 22 928 9855 / [email protected]), Jeremy Laurence (+ 41 22 917 7578 / [email protected]).

Follow news related to the UN's independent human rights experts on Twitter: @UN_SPExperts.

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