HRC40: Oral statement for debate on countering nationalist populism


ARTICLE 19 delivered the following statement to the UN Human Rights Council’s 40th Regular Session in the debate on countering nationalist populism. The statement highlighted the need for a “whole of society” approach to tackling hatred, and also called for the implementation of existing standards to tackle intolerance while protecting free expression.

Madame Vice President,

ARTICLE 19 joins others in expressing our condolences to the families and friends of those murdered in Christchurch this morning, and to the people of New Zealand.

This terrorist attack, carried out by a white supremacist and targeting Muslims, many of whom were also migrants, is a stark reminder that racist and xenophobic ideologies can manifest in actions threatening lives anywhere. All people have a human right to be safe from such violence.

We recall the words of the UN Secretary General earlier this year, who in announcing a global initiative to tackle hatred, called on us all to “enlist every segment of society in the battle for values that our world faces today.”

A “whole of society” approach to tackling hatred, fostering respect for inclusion, pluralism and diversity, is the only way we can be effective. The importance of civil society space and freedom of expression to tackling hate underpins an ARTICLE 19 video launched earlier at this Human Rights Council session.

We lament that populist demagogues often peddle hate while claiming to be defenders of free expression. They must not be allowed to co-opt our human rights language: these people are often the quickest to employ violence to silence any person who seeks to expose their lies.

We remember Marielle Franco, a human rights defender who fought against racism, misogyny and homophobia, murdered in Brazil one year ago for seeking to transform society into a more equal and just place.

We must all ‘fight like Marielle’, and use our platforms to tackle hate, and work particularly hard to ensure the right of marginalized people to speak, and to be heard.

This Council must reinvigorate efforts to push for the implementation of existing standards to tackle intolerance while protecting free expression. We therefore welcome the “Istanbul Process” stock-taking meeting announced by the European Union and Denmark for 8 April.

It is essential that we put HRC resolution 16/18, the Rabat Plan of Action, and Global Compact for Migration, into action: unjustified restrictions on civic space, including laws often abused to silence dissenting minorities, must be repealed if we are to have our fullest impact.

Thank you.