Hate Propaganda and International Human Rights Law
FORGING PEACE: INTERVENTION, HUMAN RIGHTS AND THE MANAGEMENT OF MEDIA SPACE, Monroe E. Price and Mark Thompson, eds. (Univ. of Edinburgh Press, 2002)
35 Pages Posted: 9 Jun 2016 Last revised: 15 Jun 2016
Date Written: June 8, 2016
Hate propaganda can create conditions that foment widespread, sometimes genocidal violence. Those conditions can become so firmly entrenched and reinforced by propaganda that the propagandist speech cannot be offset simply by “more speech” or by speech advocating tolerance.
Where such deeply etched speech-inspired hatred exists, the result can be the loss of thousands or millions of lives. This is the lesson that the drafters of international and regional human rights treaties drew from the Nazi regime, which led the prohibition of hate speech to be incorporated into treaties protecting human rights.
Do these treaty provisions then provide legal space for international bodies to take multilateral action, or for a state to take unilateral extraterritorial action, to limit the media within another state's boundaries?
This paper argues that, under international human rights law, unilateral or multilateral intervention against media engaged in inciting racial or ethnic hatred can constitute a permissible limitation on free expression and on the right to receive and impart information and ideas. In this essay, I explore the development of international human rights principles on speech and hate propaganda that govern individual states and that might, by extension, relate to the actions of the United Nations, NATO, or a state acting out of humanitarian concern to prevent violence and racial or ethnic conflict in neighboring or other states.
Keywords: Hate Speech, Free Speech, Media Regulation, Freedom of Expression, Hate Propaganda, Genocide, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Covenant, European Court of Human Rights
JEL Classification: K33, N40
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation