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Dialogue on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance
June 24, 2014

Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance

Statement by the Delegation of the United States of America

UN Human Rights Council – 26th Session
As Delivered by Candace Bates

Geneva, June 24, 2014

Thank you, Mr. President.

The United States welcomes Special Rapporteur Mutuma Ruteere and thanks him for his thoughtful attention in his most recent report to the use of the Internet and social media to propagate racist ideas.

As we live in an increasingly interconnected world, expanded access to the Internet and new connections via social media have enabled unprecedented access to information.

These technological developments have also brought mutually beneficial exchanges of ideas, linking individuals throughout countries and across borders in ways unimagined even a decade ago.

At the same time, we recognize that some have tried to use these tools to spread hateful and discriminatory ideas and beliefs.

The United States abhors racist ideology.

As our history and experience have shown us, the best way to counteract these statements is through allowing a variety of more reasoned voices, including voices of members of minority groups, to outshine the vitriol of a hardened few.

We appreciate the Special Rapporteur’s focus on the various methods that are being used around the world to counteract the use of Internet and social media to spread hate speech.

We agree strongly with his conclusion that the “censorship approach” to controlling hate speech has significant draw backs.

However, we strongly disagree with Mr. Ruteere’s recommendation that legislative measures are essential to combat and prevent racial hatred on the Internet.

We disagree with the assertion that Article 19(3) of the ICCPR allows for prohibition of any hate speech – a very broad category of speech.

We would highlight the very different and well-reasoned approach to this issue taken by others, including Special Rapporteur Frank LaRue, emphasizing the need for restrictions to be very narrowly tailored.

We firmly support a multi-stakeholder approach to the issue, as noted in the report.

Technology companies, the private sector, civil society, academia, and governments can work together to address and overcome this complex phenomenon.

One example is the positive collaboration between stakeholders and ISPs to take down infringing content.

We applaud the inclusion in the Special Rapporteur’s report of some of the novel educational programs, online tools, and mobile apps being developed by organizations such as the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Anti-Defamation League, and other non-governmental organizations around the United States and the globe to address this issue.

We encourage the continued exchange of such best practices.

Thank you.