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Message on the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists

  • 01 November 2019 |

Freedom of expression and free media are essential to fostering understanding, bolstering democracy and advancing our efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. 

In recent years, however, there has been a rise in the scale and number of attacks against the physical safety of journalists and media workers, and of incidents infringing upon their ability to do their vital work, including threats of prosecution, arrest, imprisonment, denial of journalistic access and failures to investigate and prosecute crimes against them. 

The proportion of women among fatalities has also risen, and women journalists increasingly face gendered forms of violence, such as sexual harassment, sexual assault and threats. 

When journalists are targeted, societies as a whole pay a price.  Without the ability to protect journalists, our ability to remain informed and contribute to decision-making is severely hampered.  Without journalists able to do their jobs in safety, we face the prospect of a world of confusion and disinformation. 

On this International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists, let us stand up together for journalists, for truth and for justice.

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‘When journalists are targeted, societies as a whole, pay a price’, UN chief

  • 01 November 2019 |

“Without journalists able to do their jobs in safety, we face the prospect of a world of confusion and disinformation”, UN Secretary-General António Guterres has warned in a statement released ahead of the International Day to End Impunity Against Journalists, which falls on 2 November.

“When journalists are targeted, societies as a whole pay a price”, added the UN chief. “Without the ability to protect journalists, our ability to remain informed and contribute to decision-making, is severely hampered”.

Killings and attacks on the rise


A new study from the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO, underscores the risks that journalists face, showing that almost 90 per cent of those found responsible for the deaths of more than eleven hundred of them, between 2006 and 2018, have not been convicted.

The report, “Intensified Attacks, New Defences”, also notes that killings of journalists have risen by some 18 per cent in the past five years (2014-2018), compared to the previous five-year period.

The deadliest countres for journalists, according to the statistics, are Arab States, where almost a third of the killings took place. The Latin American and Caribbean region (26 per cent), and Asian and Pacific States (24 per cent) are the next most dangerous.

Journalists are ofen murdered for their reporting on politics, crime and corruption, and this is reflected in the study, which reveals that, in the past two years (2017-2018), more than half of journalist fatalities were in non-conflict zones.

In his statement, the Secretary-General noted the rise in the scale and number of attacks on journalists and media workers, as well as incidents that make their work much harder, including “threats of prosecution, arrest, imprisonment, denial of journalistic access and failures to investigate and prosecute crimes against them”.

A high-profile example is the murder of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia in 2017. The case is being followed by independent UN human rights expert Agnès Callamard, among others, who has suggested that too little has been done by the Maltese authorities to investigate the killing.

On Friday, as Haiti continued to face a protracted, violent crisis that has led to the deaths of some forty-two people, and eighty-six injured, UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet called on all of those involved in the violence to refrain from targeting journalists, and respect the freedom of the media to do its job: at least one journalist is among those killed, and nine other reporters have been injured, according to Ms. Bachelet’s Office (OHCHR).

Keep Truth Alive


This year UNESCO has launched the #KeepTruthAlive social media campaign, which draws attention to the dangers faced by journalists close to their homes, highlighting the fact that 93 per cent of those killed work locally, and featuring an interactive map created for the campaign, which provides a vivid demonstration of the scale and breadth of the dangers faced by journalists worldwide.

The Day is being commemorated with a flagship event in Mexico City next week on 7 November – an international seminar entitled “Strengthening regional cooperation to end impunity for crimes and attacks against journalists in Latin America” – and events are also taking place in 15 other countries, including an exhibition of press cartoons, under the headline: “Draw so as not to write them off”, at UN HQ in New York, which honours the memories of French journalists Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon, murdered in Mali on 2 November 2013.

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Message on Nelson Mandela Day - 18 July 2019

  • 17 July 2019 |

On this day, we pay tribute to an extraordinary global advocate for dignity and equality, and one of the most iconic and inspirational leaders of our time.  Nelson Mandela exemplified courage, compassion and commitment to freedom, peace and social justice.  He lived by these principles and was prepared to sacrifice his liberty and even his life for them. 

Nelson Mandela’s calls for social cohesion and an end to racism are particularly relevant today, with hate speech casting a growing shadow around the world.  As we work collectively for peace, stability, sustainable development and human rights for all, we would be well served to recall the example set by Nelson Mandela.  

Our best tribute is found in actions.  Nelson Mandela’s message to the world is clear.  Every one of us can step up and act for enduring change.  We all have the duty to do so.  On this day of reflection on Nelson Mandela’s life and work, let us embrace his legacy and aspire to emulate his example.

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Statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General in relation to the Norwegian facilitation on Venezuela

  • 04 July 2019 |

Statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General in relation to the Norwegian facilitation on Venezuela 

The Secretary-General met with the Prime Minister of Norway, Erna Solberg, on the margins of the 40thCARICOM Summit in Saint Lucia today. The Secretary-General expressed strong support for the Norwegian facilitation initiative on Venezuela. He calls on all parties in Venezuela to avoid any actions that might increase tensions in the country and undermine the facilitation initiative.

Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesman for the Secretary-General

New York, 4 July 2019

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message on World Refugee Day - 20 June

  • 19 June 2019 |

On World Refugee Day, my thoughts are with the more than 70 million women, children and men – refugees and internally displaced persons -- who have been forced to flee war, conflict and persecution.

This is an astonishing number – twice what it was 20 years ago.

Most of the forcibly displaced came from just a handful of countries: Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Myanmar and Somalia. In the past 18 months, millions more have fled Venezuela. 

I want to recognize the humanity of countries that host refugees even as they struggle with their own economic challenges and security concerns.

We must match their hospitality with development and investment.

It is regrettable that their example is not followed by all.  We must re-establish the integrity of the international protection regime.

The Global Compact on Refugees, adopted last December, offers a blueprint for modern refugee response.

What refugees need most is peace. 

Millions of people around the world have joined UNHCR’s World Refugee Day campaign and are taking steps, big and small, in solidarity with refugees. Will you take a step with refugees too?

Thank you.

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United Nations Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech

  • 18 June 2019 |

 Foreword

Around the world, we are seeing a disturbing groundswell of xenophobia, racism and intolerance – including rising anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim hatred and persecution of Christians.Social media and other forms of communication are being exploited as platforms for bigotry.Neo-Nazi and white supremacy movements are on the march. Public discourse is being weaponized for political gain with incendiary rhetoric that stigmatizes and dehumanizes minorities, migrants, refugees, women and any so-called “other”.This is not an isolated phenomenon or the loud voices of a few people on the fringe of society.

Hate is moving into the mainstream – in liberal democracies and authoritarian systems alike.And with each broken norm, the pillars of our common humanity are weakened.Hate speech is a menace to democratic values, social stability and peace.

As a matter of principle, the United Nations must confront hate speech at every turn. Silence can signal indifference to bigotry and intolerance, even as a situation escalates and the vulnerable become victims.Tackling hate speech is also crucial to deepen progress across the United Nations agenda by helping to prevent armed conflict, atrocity crimes and terrorism, end violence against women and other serious violations of human rights, and promote peaceful, inclusive and just societies.

Addressing hate speech does not mean limiting or prohibiting freedom of speech. It means keeping hate speech from escalating into something more dangerous, particularly incitement to discrimination, hostility and violence, which is prohibited under international law.

The United Nations has a long history of mobilizing the world against hatred of all kinds through wide-ranging action to defend human rights and advance the rule of law. Indeed, the very identity and establishment of the Organization are rooted in the nightmare that ensues when virulent hatred is left unopposed for too long.Today, I fear, we have reached another acute moment in battling this demon, and so I have asked my Senior Advisers to explore what more we can do.

This Strategy and Plan of Action Is the result. It points to concrete ways in which the United Nations can play its part in addressing hate speech around the world while upholding freedom of opinion and expression,in collaboration with Governments, civil society, the private sector and other partners.By enhancing global resilience against this insidious phenomenon, we can strengthen the bonds of society and build a better world for all.

-- Antonio Guterres

 What is hate speech

There is no international legal definition of hate speech, and the characterization of what is ‘hateful’ is controversial and disputed. In the context of this document, the term hate speech is understood as any kind of communication in speech, writing or behaviour, thatattacks or uses pejorative or discriminatory language with reference to a person or a groupon the basis of who they are, in other words, based on their religion, ethnicity, nationality,race, colour, descent, gender or other identity factor.

This is often rooted in, and generates intolerance and hatred and, in certain contexts, can be demeaning and divisive.Rather than prohibiting hate speech as such, international law prohibits the incitement to discrimination, hostility and violence (referred to here as ‘incitement’). Incitement is avery dangerous form of speech, because it explicitly and deliberately aims at triggering discrimination, hostility and violence, which may also lead to or include terrorism or atrocity crimes.

Hate speech that does not reach the threshold of incitement is not something that international law requires States to prohibit. It is important to underline that even when not prohibited, hate speech may to be harmful.

The impact of hate speech cuts across numerous existing United Nations areas of operations, including: human rights protection; prevention of atrocity crime; preventing and countering terrorism and the underlying spread of violent extremism and counterterrorism;preventing and addressing gender-based violence; enhancing protection of civilians; refugee protection; the fight against all forms of racism and discrimination;protection of minorities; sustaining peace; and engaging women, children and youth.Addressing hate speech, therefore, requires a coordinated response that tackles the root causes and drivers of hate speech, as well as its impact on victims and society more broadly.

 

 Strategic Vision

The UN Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech aims to give to the United Nations the room and the resources to address hate speech, which poses a threat to United Nations principles, values and programmes. Measures taken will be in line with international human rights norms and standards, in particular the right to freedom of opinion and expression.

The objectives are two fold:

  • Enhance UN efforts to address root causes and drivers of hate speech
  • Enable effective UN responses to the impact of hate speech on societies

 

In order to address hate speech, the UN will implement actions at global and country level, as well as enhance internal cooperation among relevant UN entities.

The Strategy will be guided by the following principles:

1. The strategy and its implementation to be in line with the right to freedom of opinion and expression. The UN supports more speech, not less, as the key means to address hate speech;

2. Tackling hate speech is the responsibility of all – governments, societies, the private sector, starting with individual women and men. All are responsible, all must act;

3. In the digital age, the UN should support a new generation of digital citizens,empowered to recognize, reject and stand up to hate speech;

4. We need to know more to act effectively – this calls for coordinated data collection and research, including on the root causes, drivers and conditions conducive to hate speech.

 

 

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Secretary-General launches the United Nations Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech

  • 18 June 2019 |

New York, 18 June, The Secretary-General today launched a United Nations Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech at an informal briefing to Member States.  The purpose of the Strategy is to deepen understanding on the part of all United Nations entities about the insidious impact of hate speech and how they can more effectively address it in their work. It calls for stronger support to Member States as well as stronger engagement with private companies, civil society and media.

The Strategy provides ideas on how to address the root causes and drivers of hate speech and how to reduce its impact on societies.

“Hate speech is in itself an attack on tolerance, inclusion, diversity and the very essence of our human rights norms and principles. More broadly, it undermines social cohesion, erodes shared values, and can lay the foundation for violence, setting back the cause of peace, stability, sustainable development and the fulfillment of human rights for all” stated Secretary-General Antonio Guterres while briefing Member States.

Over the past 75 years, we have seen hate speech as a precursor to atrocity crimes, including genocide, from Rwanda to Bosnia to Cambodia. More recently, it has been strongly linked with violence resulting in mass killings in several parts of the world, including in Central African Republic, Sri Lanka, New Zealand and the United States. Governments and technology companies alike are struggling to prevent and respond to orchestrated online hate.

“As new channels for hate speech are reaching wider audiences than ever before and at lightning speed, we all – the United Nations, governments, technology companies, educational institutions – need to step up our responses” said Guterres.

Adama Dieng, Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide added: “In line with the United Nations longstanding commitment to the protection, promotion and implementation of all international human rights standards, the strategy and plan of action never calls for restrictions of freedom of expression and opinion to address hate speech.  By contrast, it adopts a holistic approach that aims at tackling the whole life cycle of hate speech, from its roots causes to its impact on societies.  It also considers more speech - alternative, positive and counter-narratives – to be the answer to hate speech”.

To strengthen UN support to Member States, the Secretary General announced that he intends to convene a conference on the role of education in addressing and building resilience against hate speech. He also designated the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide as the UN Focal Point for the implementation of the Strategy and Plan of Action. In this capacity, the Special Adviser will oversee and facilitate the development of more specific guidance on the implementation.  

 

For questions on the launch of the United Nations Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech please contact Simona Cruciani, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., +1 917 367 5430.

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Press statement by UNSDG for Latin America and the Caribbean on the occasion of the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia.

  • 18 May 2019 |

PANAMA CITY, 17 May 2019—In recent years, Latin America and the Caribbean have made significant progress in protecting and recognizing the rights of people with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities, gender expressions and sexual characteristics. This progress is worthy of celebration and brings us closer to the path laid out by the ambitious Sustainable Development Agenda, which is anchored by the principle of leaving no one behind.

Some of the region’s most important achievements in the promotion of rights include the recognition of civil unions between people of the same sex1 , equal marriage2 and the recognition of gender identity for trans people3 . In terms of protection, some countries in the region have made progress in adopting anti-discrimination laws, due to the evidence regarding the prevalence of discrimination, violence and hate crimes experienced by people in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community.

On the other hand, the Resolution to address the causes of disparities in access and use of health services by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, approved in September 2013 by the Ministers of Health of the Americas, recognizes that stigma and discrimination have real and adverse effects on the health of LGBTI people4 .

While these advances are important, we must recognize that progress has not been the same in all countries and there are still important challenges around ending violence and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people. In the region, nine countries still criminalize same-sex relationships, with penalties that include life imprisonment.

Prejudice, discrimination and violence against LGBTI people have a broad impact on human rights and public health, including the ability of LGBTI people to access justice, protection, healthcare, education, work and other rights inherent to citizens.

Laws that criminalize consensual relationships between adults of the same sex, that impose discriminatory restrictions on public discussion of the rights of LGBTI persons or the work of LGBTI organizations and human rights defenders, violate international human rights standards. There is no progress in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals while there are citizens whose rights and opportunities are restricted.

Public prejudice against LGBTI people can never justify such laws, nor restrictive measures. Rather, it requires states to take specific measures to protect LGBTI persons from violence and discrimination, to foster a context of respect and to overcome such prejudices through public education.

Recently, the Inter-American Human Rights System reiterated, through the Advisory Opinion of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, that sexual orientation and gender identity are categories protected by the American Convention on Human Rights. Therefore, any rule, act or discriminatory practice based on these characteristics of people is prohibited.

The defense of human rights, without discrimination, including on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, is one of the pillars of the United Nations. Under this mandate, the United Nations Sustainable Development Group for Latin America and the Caribbean calls on States to comply with their human rights obligations, without any type of discrimination.

1 Chile and Ecuador 

2 Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica and some states in Mexico

3 Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia

4Resolution CD52/18: Addressing the causes of disparities in health service access and utilization for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans persons.

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Dominica’s human rights record to be reviewed by UPR on 9 May

  • 06 May 2019 |

Dominica’s human rights record to be reviewed by Universal Periodic Review

GENEVA (6 May 2019) – Dominica’s human rights record will be examined by the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group for the third time on Thursday, 9 May 2019 in a meeting that will be webcast live.

Dominica is one of the 14 States to be reviewed by the UPR Working Group during its upcoming session taking place from 6 to 17 May.  Dominica’s first and second UPR reviews took place in December 2009 and May 2014, respectively.

The documents on which the reviews are based are: 1) national report - information provided by the State under review; 2) information contained in the reports of independent human rights experts and groups, known as the Special Procedures, human rights treaty bodies, and other UN entities; 3) information provided by other stakeholders including national human rights institutions, regional organizations and civil society groups.

The three reports serving as the basis for the review of Dominica on 9 May can be found here.

Location: Room 20, Palais des Nations, Geneva

Time and date: 09.00 – 12.30, Thursday, 9 May (Geneva time, GMT +1 hour)

The UPR is a unique process which involves a periodic review of the human rights records of all 193 UN Member States.  Since its first meeting was held in April 2008, all 193 UN member States have been reviewed twice within the first and second UPR cycles.  During the third UPR cycle, States are again expected to spell out steps they have taken to implement recommendations posed during their previous reviews which they committed to follow-up on, as well as to highlight recent human rights developments in the country.

The delegation of Dominica will be headed by Ms. Francine Baron, Minister for Foreign and CARICOM Affairs.

The three country representatives serving as rapporteurs (“troika”) for the review of Dominica are: China, Nigeria and Uruguay.

The webcast of the session will be at http://webtv.un.org

The list of speakers and all available statements to be delivered during the review of Dominica will be posted on the UPR Extranet[username:  hrc extranet (with space); password: 1session].

The UPR Working Group is scheduled to adopt the recommendations made to Dominica at 16.30 on 14 May.  The State under review may wish to express its positions on recommendations posed to it during their review.  The recommendations will be shared with the media on this day in advance.   

ENDS

For more information and media requests, please contact Rolando Gómez at +41 (0) 22 917 9711

 

To learn more about the Universal Periodic Review, visit: www.ohchr.org/hrc/upr

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Message on World Press Freedom Day 2019

  • 01 May 2019 |

A free press is essential for peace, justice, sustainable development and human rights.

No democracy is complete without access to transparent and reliable information. It is the cornerstone for building fair and impartial institutions, holding leaders accountable and speaking truth to power.

This is especially true during election seasons -- the focus of this year’s World Press Freedom Day.

Facts, not falsehoods, should guide people as they choose their representatives.

Yet while technology has transformed the ways in which we receive and share information, sometimes it is used to mislead public opinion or to fuel violence and hatred.

Civic space has been shrinking worldwide at an alarming rate.

And with anti-media rhetoric on the rise, so too are violence and harssasment against journalists, including women.

I am deeply troubled by the growing number of attacks and the culture of impunity.

According to UNESCO, almost 100 journalists were killed in 2018.

Hundreds are imprisoned.

When media workers are targeted, societies as a whole pay a price.

On World Press Freedom Day, I call on all to defend the rights of journalists, whose efforts help us to build a better world for all.

Thank you.

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