The launch was organized by UNESCO in partnership with the Resident Coordinator Office and United Nations Information Center (UNIC) with the support of the Government of Nepal and UNESCO Nepal. It included contributions from HE Ashok Kumar Rai, Minister of Education, Science and Technology, Nepal; HE Fathimath Naseer, Minister of State for Education, Maldives and HE A. Aravindh Kumar, State Minister of Education, Sri Lanka.
Video messages were delivered by Alice Wairimu Nderitu, United Nations Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Stefania Giannini, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Education, and HE Dipu Moni, Minister of Education, Bangladesh.
Dr. Cecilia Jacob, Co-Chair of the Asia-Pacific Working Group of GAAMAC, contributed to an expert plenary at the launch on 20 June. The APWG Co-Chair also led a workshop titled “Exploring the Nexus between Addressing Hate Speech and the Prevention of Atrocities: What is the Role of Educators?”. The report Preventing Hate Speech, Incitement and Discrimination, launched by GAAMAC’s Asia-Pacific Working Group in 2021, was disseminated in the workshop and used to instruct participants on the fundamentals of atrocity prevention and its relationship with hate speech. Participants were then encouraged to identify practical applications for integrating an atrocity prevention perspective into education programming.
The subregional launch followed a 1.5-day consultation with delegations from Nepal, India, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Maldives, and Pakistan, including regional and international experts, policy-makers, representatives of ministries of education, academics, educational practitioners, CSOs, youth organizations, social media regulatory bodies, social media companies and organizations actively involved in countering hate speech to identify practical solutions and consider national action plans for implementing the guidelines in their national curriculum.
The UNESCO Policy Guide
The United Nations Secretary-General invited UNESCO and the United Nations Office on the Prevention of Genocide and the Responsibility to Protect (UNOSAPG) to organize a Global Education Ministers Conference on “Addressing Hate Speech through Education” in October 2021. The UNESCO Policy Guide was prepared as an outcome of the Ministers Conference.
The guidelines contribute to the implementation of the United Nations Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech, launched in 2019 that directs the United Nations’ response to the growing problem of hate speech around the world. The Strategy and Plan of Action stresses leveraging education “as a tool for addressing and countering hate speech,” emphasizing the need to promote and protect the right to freedom of opinion and expression.
The guide follows and provides recommendations on the three key principles of UNESCO’s approach to hate speech: (1) Promoting more rights and safeguarding freedom of expression, (2) Fostering resilience against all forms of hate speech, and (3) Strengthening knowledge about the root causes, drivers, and conditions conducive to hate speech, notably online.
It aims to serve as a reference tool for policy-makers and education stakeholders to effectively address hate speech, online and offline. The guide promotes a gender-sensitive and human rights-based approach to upholding freedom of expression, with a particular emphasis on global citizenship education.