Geneva Peace Week: Addressing hate speech and hate crimes in Europe: challenges, gaps and synergies

4 Nov 2020 | Online

Organized By : Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland

Today, in Europe, hate speech and hate crimes are increasingly becoming daily realities. History has shown that, if not addressed and prevented in time, hateful rhetoric and discriminatory practices often precede the commission of serious human rights violations and atrocities. Risk factors such as the rise of hate speech against targeted groups need to be addressed early enough to prevent escalation to violence.   

The COVID-19 pandemic has also contributed to the rise of hate, incitement and discrimination. At the same time, the crisis has also created the space for new approaches, creativity and innovation in peacebuilding and prevention efforts.

Many initiatives from European States and civil society actors address hate speech and hate crimes at local and regional levels. However, there is a need to identify existing gaps in prevention efforts and strengthen mutual awareness and connectedness across these initiatives and programmes. By doing so, the international community will be able to strengthen its own resilience and overcome many of the challenges brought on by the pandemic.

This online session offers a trusted horizontal and participatory space where peacebuilders, including both state and civil society actors engaged in prevention at local, regional and global levels, can draw on each other’s expertise, good practices and experiences, and reflect on new ways to build trust and boost cooperation.

What is missing regarding countering hate speech in Europe? What can we learn from prevention efforts elsewhere? How can we connect and collaborate better with one another? Participants will learn from successes and failures through concrete examples of multistakeholder collaboration, projects and initiatives. Together they will get inspired with new ideas on how to counter hate speech and hate crimes in Europe in a coordinated and effective way.  

The session is co-organized by the Working Group on Peace and Development (FriEnt), Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC), the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), supported by Global Action Against Mass Atrocity Crimes (GAAMAC).

Read the report here


All stakeholders active in countering hate speech, discrimination and/or hate crimes in Europe are invited to participate in this discussion including government, international organizations and civil society representatives.

Participants will need to register through the Geneva Peace Week website and application. The session will not be recorded as to ensure the confidentiality of the discussions.

The session will include a panel conversation and an interactive segment with the audience. Discussions and recommendations will be captured by a graphic recorder.

Panel discussion

Moderator and introductory remarks:

  • Ms Mô Bleeker, Special Envoy for dealing with the past and prevention of atrocities at the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs and GAAMAC Chair


  • Ms Christie Edwards, Deputy Head/Acting Head of the Tolerance and Non-Discrimination Department, OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights
  • Mr Elvir Djuliman, Director of the Nansen Dialogue Centre Mostar
  • Ms Tanja Florath, Policy officer at the German Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth