UNITED NATIONS - Voicing serious concern over growing hate speech worldwide, Pakistan has called for a collective effort to counter its manifestation such as Islamophobia, racism, xenophobia and incitement to violence.

“Hate is a threat to everyone; Combating it must be a collective effort,” said Ambassador Aamir Khan, deputy permanent representatives of Pakistan to the UN, in remarks at an event organized by Morocco in connection with the first-ever International Day for Countering Hate Speech. Among the priority actions proposed by the Pakistani envoy was for government interventions to “domestically criminalize certain manifestations of hate speech, such as racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia and incitement to violence.”

Khan warned that hate speech was on the rise worldwide, with the potential to incite violence, undermine social cohesion and tolerance based on xenophobia, racism, Islamophobia, hatred and other forms of intolerance and discrimination. “History has shown us that genocide and other atrocity crimes begin with words – there is a collective responsibility to address hate speech in the present day to prevent further violence in the future.” He hoped that, under the umbrella of the UN Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech, bold actions will be taken to respond to intolerant, inflammatory and prejudiced narratives that are stoking and intensify racial and religious fears, hostility and hatred.

Among other actions, the Pakistani envoy proposed to build consensus on strengthening education to counter hate speech and set out concrete recommendations in this regard. He added that the social media companies should urgently review their policies, and to effectively regulate hate speech and disinformation online, an effort that would require governments and relevant technological companies to work together.

Envoy says hate speech is on the rise worldwide, with potential to incite violence

Meanwhile, the UN Special Adviser on Genocide, Alice Nderitu, was asked by a Pakistani correspondent about rising Islamophobia in India. “We have quite a number of situations of concern, and that’s one of them,” she said.

In a message issued to mark the International Day for Countering Hate Speech, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that hate speech incites violence, undermines diversity and social cohesion and “threatens the common values and principles that bind us together.” He added, “It promotes racism, xenophobia and misogyny. It dehumanizes individuals and communities and has a serious impact on our efforts to promote peace and security, human rights, and sustainable development. The internet and social media have turbocharged hate speech, enabling it to spread like wildfire across borders.”