'Racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism or Islamophobia are poisoning our societ
'Racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism or Islamophobia are poisoning our societies' – UN chief
16 August 2017 – Urging people everywhere to speak out against hate speech and hate crimes, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres today reiterated his call for tolerance, respect for the other and the importance of recognizing diversity.
"Racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism or Islamophobia are, as I mentioned yesterday, poisoning our societies," the Secretary-General told journalists today at a briefing at the UN Headquarters in New York.
"It is absolutely essential for us all to stand up against them everywhere and every time," he added.
Addressing questions from a journalist about the situation in the US, where a weekend protest and counter-protest over the removal of a Civil War statue in Charlottesville, Virginia, sparked discussions about race, Mr. Guterres said "these demons are appearing a little bit everywhere."
A Portuguese national, Mr. Guterres said that as a European, he is proud that Europe created the values of Enlightenment: tolerance, the respect for the other, and the importance of recognition of diversity.
"To be able to stand for these values and to… at the same time, to condemn all forms of irrationality that undermine those values is essential, at the present moment, be it in the United States or everywhere else in the world," the head of the UN said.
Ahead of International Day, UN rights chief urges governments to target hate speech, crimes
20 March 2017 – On the eve of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the United Nations human rights chief today reminded Governments around the world that they have a legal obligation to stop hate speech and hate crimes, and called on people everywhere to "stand up for someone's rights."
"Politics of division and the rhetoric of intolerance are targeting racial, ethnic, linguistic and religious minorities, and migrants and refugees. Words of fear and loathing can, and do, have real consequences," the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, said.
The UN High Commissioner's statement comes ahead of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, marked annually on 21 March. The theme for this year is ending racial profiling and incitement to hatred, including as it relates to people's attitudes and actions towards migration.
At the Summit for Refugees and Migrants in September 2016, UN Member States adopted a Declaration strongly condemning acts and manifestations of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.
The Summit also sparked the UN's Together initiative to change negative perceptions and attitudes aimed at refugees and migrants.
In his statement, Mr. Zeid said that States do not have any excuse to allow racism and xenophobia to fester.
States "have the legal obligation to prohibit and eliminate racial discrimination, to guarantee the right of everyone, no matter their race, colour, national or ethnic origin, to equality before the law," the senior UN official said.
He urged Governments to adopt legislation expressly prohibiting racist hate speech, including the dissemination of ideas based on racial superiority or hatred, incitement to racial discrimination, and threats or incitement to violence.
"It is not an attack on free speech or the silencing of controversial ideas or criticism, but a recognition that the right to freedom of expression carries with it special duties and responsibilities," Mr. Zeid said.
To promote human rights, the UN High Commissioner's office, known by its acronym OHCHR, is asking people around the world to , "Stand up for Someone's Rights Today". The campaign urges people to take practical steps in their own communities to take a stand for humanity.