Human Rights and Hate Speech

In what way does Hate Speech violate your rights?


Where do human rights come from?

A right is a claim that we have every reason to make. I have a right to the goods in my shopping basket if I have paid for them. Citizens have a right to elect a president if their country if the constitution guarantees it and the child has a right to be taken to the zoo if its parents have promised to do so. All these are things that people can be entitled to expect given the promises or guarantees that have been undertaken by another party.

Human rights, however, are claims with a subtle difference that they do not depend on promises or guarantees by another party. Someone’s right to life is not dependent on someone else who promises not to kill him or her: the life of a person could fall into such dependence, but not the very right to life. The right to life of all people depends on only one thing: that they are human.

The recognition of human rights means recognizing the right of everyone to make these claims: I have these rights, no matter what you say or what you do, because I am a human being, just like you. Human rights are inherent to all human beings.

Therefore, there are two key values that lie at the core of the idea of ​​human rights. The first one is human dignity, and the second one is equality.

Human rights can be understood as defining those basic standards, which are necessary for a life of dignity, and their universality stems from the fact that in this respect, at least, all humans are equal. We must not and cannot discriminate between them.

These two beliefs, or values, are all we need to subscribe to the idea of ​​human rights; and these beliefs are hardly controversial. That is why this idea receives support from every culture in the world, from every civilized government and every major religion. It is recognized almost universally that state power cannot be unlimited or arbitrary. It needs to be limited at least to the extent that all individuals within its jurisdiction can live with certain minimum requirements for human dignity.

Characteristics of human rights

The controversy over the nature of human rights among philosophers is eternal, but in the meantime, the international community has already established a set of key concepts that states have agreed to abide by. According to these principles:

  1. Human rights are inalienable. This means that you cannot lose them because they are related to the very fact of human existence. In particular, circumstances, some rights (but not all) may be restricted or suspended. For example, if someone is found guilty of a crime, his or her liberty can be taken away. In times of civil unrest, a government may impose a curfew restricting freedom of movement.
  2. They are indivisible, interdependent and interrelated. This means that different human rights are intrinsically connected and cannot be considered in isolation. Having a right to something depends on gtv aving a number of other rights, and none of them is more important than the rest.
  3. They are universal, which means that they apply equally to all people around the world and with no time limit. Every individual is entitled to enjoy his or her human rights regardless of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other beliefs, national and social origin, birth status, etc.

It should be noted that the universal nature of human rights does not in any way threaten the rich diversity of individuals and different cultures. Diversity requires a world where everyone is equal and equally deserving respect.

The worst expressions of hate speech are themselves a form of discrimination, and an abuse of human rights. Hate speech alienates, marginalizes and undermines personal dignity, often of those who are already vulnerable in other ways. When the target of hate speech is individualized, for example, in cases of cyberbullying, hate speech may also infringe the right to privacy and may even constitute inhuman and degrading treatment. However, it also undermines the confidence, dignity and security of anyone identified with the groups targeted by hate speech.

If not addressed in a timely manner, hate speech drives human rights abuses further: negative stereotypes spread throughout society, groups become increasingly marginalized and isolated, conflicts and divisions grow, and abuse and threats increase as new boundaries are crossed. In the worst cases, mere expression of hate speech begins to transform into physical violence. Hate speech can lead to hate crime, engaging human rights related to personal safety and security. Hate crimes, including genocide, are always accompanied by hate speech. Not all such verbal expressions lead to hate crimes, but hate crimes always involve hate speech.

Actions taken to combat hate speech may engage certain human rights because

freedom of expression is a fundamental human right, and so is the right to freedom of thought, conscience or religion.

Those who are accused of inciting hatred often refer to these rights. A proper understanding of human rights can help in resolving this apparent conflict. One of the key challenges in combating hate speech is being able to identify the best balance between allowing free expression while still protecting other rights that may be involved in its sometimes negative and even violent forms.

Human rights education and training provide a powerful tool to address hate speech online by educating young people to have knowledge, skills and attitudes in order to discuss hate speech issues in the context of their rights, freedoms and responsibilities. This approach not only develops empathy and respect for others, but also enhances personal active participation and a sense of individual contribution to the protection of human rights and good communication.

• COMPASS. A Manual on Human Rights Education with Young People. 2002. Council of Europe. Various authors. F-67075 Strasbourg Cedex:
• BOOKMARKS. A Manual for Combating Hate speech Online through Human Rights Education. 2016. (Revised edition, with the inclusion of the Guide to Human Rights for Internet Users). Council of Europe. Authors: Keen, E Georgescu, M .: