IGF 2022 Open Forum #75 Combating Hate Speech – Answering the H & 5 W's Questions

Wednesday, 30th November, 2022 (13:15 UTC) - Wednesday, 30th November, 2022 (14:15 UTC)
Banquet Hall B

Break-out Group Discussions - Round Tables - 60 Min


Hate speech is a rising phenomenon which poses a direct threat to democracy and human rights. Increasingly present online and offline, it not only undermines individuals’ essential rights and fundamental freedoms, but it also humiliates and marginalize targeted individuals and groups. On 20 May 2022, the Council of Europe adopted a new Recommendation on Combating Hate Speech containing a set of guidelines for the member States and other key stakeholders to develop a comprehensive strategy to prevent and fight hate speech within a human rights framework, including in the online environment. The recommendation provides a working definition of Hate Speech which distinguishes different levels in accordance to their gravity and calls for implementing adequately calibrated and proportionate measures. Member States are invited to adopt an effective legal and policy framework covering criminal, civil and administrative law, and to set up and implement alternative measures, including awareness-raising, education, the use of counter and alternative speech. States are also encouraged to set up support mechanisms to assist those targeted by hate speech, conduct monitoring and engage in international co-operation and national co-ordination. In June 2019, the Secretary-General of the United Nations launched the UNS Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech. The Strategy represent the UN commitment to address and counter hate speech as ONE UN in a holistic way and in full respect with international human right standards, in particular with the right to freedom of expression and opinion. It also introduces a working definition of hate speech as “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, based on their religion, ethnicity, nationality, race, color, descent, gender or other forms of identity.” The Recommendation of the Council of Europe builds on case-law of the European Court of Human Rights, international standards, such UNS Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech, and promising practices identified in recent years. A wide range of different actors, ranging from States to National Human Rights Bodies, Civil Society Organisations and Internet Industry are invited to seek effective ways to concretely implement a coherent and co-ordinated response. In other words: once comprehensive standards have been made available, how do we succeed in translating them into practice? Who should act, What should they do, Where should they start, When and Why do practises guarantee conformity with human rights in parallel with the achievement of concrete results? This session will explore these crucial questions. Following a short in-depth introduction to CM Rec 2022(16) on Combating Hate Speech, parallel discussions will be held to focus on its implementation. The discussion will be articulated around the following key questions: - How to provide a legal framework coving criminal, civil and administrative law that is human rights compliant and proportional to the context. What should it deliver, by Who and How? – Moderated by representative of the Ministry of Justice of the Netherlands, and vice-chair the expert committee on combating hate speech. - How to provide victim support for persons targeted by hate speech. What support is necessary and to who and by whom should it be provided? – Moderated by Representative of HateAid, a German CSO supporting victims of hate speech and Chief of Office, UN Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect. - Monitoring hate speech online, how to set-up an effective and consistent framework work to collect disaggregated data on hate speech? How can the data support policy and practice in combating hate speech? – Moderated by Senior Lecturer in Law at the Cardiff University. - Education and Counter Speech: what have we learned from existing tools and practices and how to measure the effect/impact and upscale it? – Moderated by representative of Italian No Hate Speech coalition.

The session introduction to the CM Recommendation will be presented in person and can be followed via the live stream. The break-out groups could be run hybrid if IGF provides technical facilities. Otherwise, the organisers could hold the breakout session in-person and online in parallel. The in-person breakout would be facilitated by CoE staff and speakers present at IGF, while the online session would be facilitated by additional staff and remaining speakers participating online. A closing round to collect feedback from the in-person and online breakout sessions will be held in the plenary in hybrid format. During the plenary session short Menti-meter questions will seek to involve in-person and online participant. A moderator will facilitate the chat session and raise comments during the plenaries. The breakout groups will use a online blackboard to take notes of discussions, which can be made available in the plenary feedback round.


Menno Ettema – Council of Europe – International Organisation – Western Europe

Giulia Lucchese – Council of Europe – International Organisation – Western Europe

Simona Cruciani – UNOSAPG – United Nations - International Organisation


- Bastiaan Winkel, Ministry of Justice of the Netherlands, and deputy chair of the former Expert Committee on Combating Hate Speech of the Council of Europe.

- Josephine Ballon, Head of Legal, Hate Aid Germany

- Sejal Parmar, Senior Lecturer in Law at the Cardiff University, and former member of the Expert Committee on Combating Hate Speech of the Council of Europe and UN consultant on the development of the Detailed Guidance on the UN Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech and the UN Detailed Guidance on COVID-19 related Hate Speech.

- Debora Barletta, Education and Campaign officer, APICE, Italy, Coordinator of the No Hate Speech Movement in Italy, and part of the National Network for contrasting hate speech and hate phenomena in Italy

Onsite Moderator
Menno Ettema
Online Moderator
Simona Cruciani
Giulia Lucchese

16. Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Targets: Hate speech is a rising phenomenon which poses a direct threat to democracy and human rights as it attacks, humiliates and marginalizes individuals and groups in society. Addressing and countering hate speech calls for effective and proportionate measures by state institutions and other stakeholders at all levels, including through education use of counter speech and other measures that promote peaceful, inclusive and just societies. Such interventions need a rule of law framework to ensure transparency and accountability regarding the measures taken in order to ensure effective access to redress for those targeted by hate speech and for those who’s freedom of expression has been violated.

Key Takeaways (* deadline 2 hours after session)

A definition of Hate Speech is key to build a global understanding of the problem and how to address it (taking inspiration of the definition of the Council of Europe CM/Rec(2022)16 Recommendation on Combating Hate Speech). But such a definition would always need to be flexible to accommodate regional and national contexts. Implementation of legislation to combat hate speech is essential (within a human right compliant framework) but difficult b

Call to Action (* deadline 2 hours after session)

National, regional and global platforms, like IGF and others, are needed to prevent and combat hate speech, to help set common understanding around a definition, build capacity and improve cross border coordination to prevent and combat hate speech effecting so many in vulnerable situations. New standards adopted now need to be implemented.

Session Report (* deadline 26 October) - click on the ? symbol for instructions

Summary report: Combating Hate Speech – Answering the H & 5 W's Questions

The Open Forum was attended by approximately 50 people on site and 10 people online.

Following a short introduction to the Council of Europe Recommendation on Combating Hate Speech and the UN strategy on combating hate speech, participants split in three different Break-out groups. The on-site participants joined the in-person break-out group which discussed the definition and legal framework on combating hate speech. The online participants split between two groups on ‘How to monitor hate speech online in order to address it’ and ‘How to use education and counter speech to prevent and combat hate speech’.

Summary from break-out group ‘How to use education and counter speech to prevent and combat hate speech’

  • Key to prevention is making users, and general public, aware what is and is not hate speech. In addition to understand the risk hate speech poses and how best to respond in given circumstance.
  • Education should provide a safe setting to explore how to balance different rights essential to a democratic society, such as freedom of expression, which comes with responsibilities and limits, and impact of hate speech on others and their right to non-discrimination and safety. A save educational setting allows us to learn how to have critical debates, deal with different opinions and conflicts constructively with respect for everyone’s human rights. 
  • It’s observed that Youth seem more aware of, reduce their use of, and act against hate speech. Meanwhile generation 50+ is becoming key contributor to the toxic environments online, reposting hate and dis-information. It raises the questions if internet media literacy should be strengthened among that generation?
  • Building on experiences gained from the Italian No Hate Speech Movement; key to successful education and outreach is cooperation between different stakeholders. Civil Society actors, Universities, cultural sector work and learn together to use human rights education methodology and raise hate speech as an issue in the public debate from their different viewpoints. This approach ensures human rights speech in public spaces, in education, in media and online, and makes for a coherent and consistent messaging.

Summary from break-out group ‘How to monitoring hate speech online in order to address it’

  • It’s reaffirmed that data gathering on hate speech is essential to devise effective and  meaningful policies and practices.
  • There is a lot of similarities between international standards regarding the requirements for monitoring and reporting on hate speech.
  • UN agencies are tracking data on hate speech.
  • Tech Companies have responsibility to collect and make available data on online hate speech. It should be used for public policy, and internal systems quality control, which must be open for external monitoring.  Cooperation between companies and other stakeholders should be encouraged, international regulation can help to do so.
  • The Council of Europe Recommendation calls on its member states to take appropriate measures to ensure that law enforcement effectively record and monitor complaints concerning hate speech and also set up an anonymized archive of complaints. That body of information should be disaggregated and available to relevant stakeholders for research, policy and monitoring purposes. To establish a data access framework by states would be very important.

Summary from on-site Break-out group on ‘Legal framework’

  • Participants shared examples of national legal frameworks in place to address (online) hate speech. For example South Africa, Kenya and Ethiopia have systems in place similar to the German Network enforcement act, but with some interesting different elements, eg
    • In Ethiopia Hate speech and mis-information is defined as a crime. If an account with more than 5,000 followers disseminates hate speech it leads to an aggravation of the punishment. So, the wider the hate speech is spread, the greater the punishment.
    • In Kenya an independent institute was established to monitor hate speech, including on grounds of ethnicity.
  • Other countries, like Sri-Lanka, have no laws on hate speech, but other laws are used, such as those covering discrimination.
  • It was found a necessity to address hate speech with comprehensive laws. As Ethiopian participants illustrated, hate speech can precede genocide.
  • A global agreed definition on hate speech is needed, but it should accommodate national contexts and realties.
  • In drafting the legal framework, implementation needs to be considered. Law enforcement find it difficult to collect evidence of hate speech and build a case for prosecution.