UN HC Volker Türk Opening Statement
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Edited News | UNITED NATIONS , UNOG

HRC 53 - Urgent Debate On Rise Of Religious Hatred - 11 July 2023

Türk calls on States to address hate speech during discussion of Quran burnings

The UN’s top rights official Volker Türk on Tuesday urged respect for religious tolerance and respect during a debate at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva where Member States convened in response to the recent burning of the holy Quran in the Swedish capital.

To me, it is clear that speech and inflammatory acts against Muslims, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, and actions and speech that target Christians – or minority groups such as Ahmadis, Baháʼís or Yazidis – are manifestations of utter disrespect. said Mr. Türk.They are offensive, irresponsible and wrong.”

Pakistan on behalf of the Organisation for Islamic Cooperation (OIC) had called for an urgent discussion of "the alarming rise in premeditated and public acts of religious hatred as manifested by recurrent desecration of the Holy Koran in some European and other countries".

The High Commissioner stressed that advocacy of hatred that constitutes incitement to violence, discrimination and hostility should be prohibited in every country.

Dehumanizing women and denying their equality with men, verbally abusing Muslim women and girls who wear a headscarf, sneering at people with disabilities, making false claims that migrants or people of specific ethnicities are more likely to engage in crime, or smearing LGBTIQ+ people: all such hate speech is similar, in that it stems from the baseline notion that some people are less deserving of respect as human beings.“

Effective prevention strategies by national authorities and others can identify and address the underlying causes of hate speech, the UN rights chief continued.

“Hate speech needs to be addressed, in all societies, through dialogue, education, awareness raising, inter-faith and inter-community engagement and other public policy tools”, Mr. Türk said. “It needs to be actively countered by all responsible authorities, figures of influence, and the private sector.”

He added that “powered by the tidal forces of social media, and in a context of increasing international and national discord and polarisation, hate speech of every kind is rising, everywhere.”

The High Commissioner assured that he is “immensely sympathetic to the millions of people who are offended and outraged by acts that target their deepest values and beliefs.”

My overriding goal today is to acknowledge the profound enrichment of all of us that is brought about by our diversity, by our common understandings of human existence, and our thoughts and beliefs. Our societies – all our societies, whatever their religious and cultural backgrounds – must strive to become magnets for respect, for dialogue and cooperation among different peoples, as has been achieved by multiple civilisations in the past.”

Nazila Ghanea, the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, who addressed the top UN Rights body noted that such acts "raise concern in terms of tolerance, civility, and respect for the rights of others. More than ever, our responses to these acts should be strongly anchored in the international human rights law framework. The responses of national authorities to these acts and related incidents should be compatible with international human rights law.”

Ms. Ghanea added that “all States should exercise due diligence to prevent, investigate and punish acts of violence against persons belonging to religious minorities, and to detect signs of intolerance that may lead to discrimination based on religion or belief. Expressions of intolerance need to be countered so that they do not encourage further acts of intolerance or even of violence.”

Khalil Hashmi, Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the UN in Geneva, called for greater action "to effectively counter the growing scourge of religious hatred, its manifestation as well as its incitement. The States are duty bearers, are bound to protect rights and promote to respect while electing laws and policies to reverse acts of impunity.” He added that “for these reasons, the OIC (Organisation of Islamic Cooperation) has called for an urgent and serious conversation at this Council on prevention, deterrence, accountability, and redressal measures”.  

The Human Rights Council was expected to vote on the draft resolution on 12 July.

-ends-

 

  1. Med shot, United Nations in Geneva
  2. Wide shot, Human Rights Council
  3. Medium shot, podium at the Human Rights Room
  4. SOUNDBITE (English) - Volker Türk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: “To me, it is clear that speech and inflammatory acts against Muslims, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, and actions and speech that target Christians – or minority groups such as Ahmadis, Baháʼís or Yazidis – are manifestations of utter disrespect. They are offensive, irresponsible and wrong.”
  5. Medium shot, cameraman filming delegates in Human Rights Room
  6. SOUNDBITE (English) - Volker Türk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: “Hate speech needs to be addressed, in all societies, through dialogue, education, awareness raising, inter-faith and inter-community engagement and other public policy tools. It needs to be actively countered by all responsible authorities, figures of influence, and the private sector.”
  7. Medium shot, delegates
  8. SOUNDBITE (English) - Volker Türk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: “Dehumanizing women and denying their equality with men; verbally abusing Muslim women and girls who wear a headscarf; sneering at people with disabilities; making false claims that migrants or people of specific ethnicities are more likely to engage in crime; or smearing LGBTIQ+ people: all such hate speech is similar, in that it stems from the baseline notion that some people are less deserving of respect as human beings.“
  9. Wide shot, Human Rights Room
  10. SOUNDBITE (English) - Volker Türk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: “My overriding goal today is to acknowledge the profound enrichment of all of us that is brought about by our diversity, by our common understandings of human existence, and our thoughts and beliefs. Our societies – all our societies, whatever their religious and cultural backgrounds – must strive to become magnets for respect, for dialogue and cooperation among different peoples, as has been achieved by multiple civilisations in the past.”
  11. Wide shot, podium with speakers and screen
  12. SOUNDBITE (English) - Nazila Ghanea, Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief: “These acts also raise concern in terms of tolerance, civility, and respect for the rights of others. More than ever, our responses to these acts should be strongly anchored in the international human rights law framework. The responses of national authorities to these acts and related incidents should be compatible with international human rights law.”
  13. Medium shot, delegate from Lebanon
  14. SOUNDBITE (English) - Nazila Ghanea, Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief: All States should exercise due diligence to prevent, investigate and punish acts of violence against persons belonging to religious minorities, and to detect signs of intolerance that may lead to discrimination based on religion or belief. Expressions of intolerance need to be countered so that they do not encourage further acts of intolerance or even of violence.”
  15. Medium shot, delegate from Spain
  16. SOUNDBITE (English) - Khalil Hashmi, Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the UN in Geneva: “We must do more to effectively counter the growing scourge of religious hatred, its manifestation as well as its incitement. The states are duty bearers, are bound to protect rights and promote to respect while electing laws and policies to reverse acts of impunity. For these reasons, the OIC (Organisation of Islamic Cooperation) has called for an urgent and serious conversation at this Council on prevention, deterrence, accountability, and redressal measures”.
  17. Wide shot and pan down from the ceiling of the Human Rights Room to the delegates
  18. Medium shot, delegate of France
  19. Medium shot, delegate of Oman
  20. Medium shot, delegate of European Union

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