Freedom of expression and freedom from hate online (Young people combating hate speech on-line)

8 November 2012 - A Workshop on Human Rights in Baku, Azerbaijan


The Internet offers the possibility of every user/participant to create, publish, distribute and consume media content fostering therefore a space of full participation, engagement and self-expression. Online space, just as offline space, presents new opportunities, challenges and threats to young people. Just as in offline space, young people may equally be victims and agents of abuse and human rights violation. Interaction in online space among different participants in communication, even though democratic and uncensored, cannot and is not to be value-void. The project Young People Combating Hate Speech On-line builds on the experiences ‘All Different-All Equal’ European youth campaigns and the capacity and competence of young people and youth organisations to act within online space. The project will mobilise European and national actors through a variety of activities such as training courses, development of educational materials, national seminars and conferences. Central to the project is a European youth media campaign which will be designed and implemented with the agency of young people and youth organisations. The campaign will adopt a positive and pro-active message – a campaign for freedom of expression on-line – while having a clear stance against all forms of racism and discrimination on-line. Youth from groups targeted by on-line hate speech – such as refugees and asylum-seekers, Muslims, LGBT and Roma – will play a particular role in the campaign. A network of young bloggers will form the core of the project and will play a central role in the preparation of an on-line media campaign The workshop will explore the tensions and dilemmas of human rights on-line activists who use the Internet for promoting a culture of universal human rights and, at the same time, are confronted with various forms of hate speech on-line. How to raise awareness and take action about understanding and living cyber-space as public space without limiting freedom of expression? How to empower and involve targets of hate speech so that they can use the Internet without fear? We'll base the workshop on a survey that we'll conduct among young people across Europe between June and September 2012. The survey and the workshop will contribute to an on-line media youth campaign for human rights and freedom of expression on line. Beyond the European reality, the project and campaign will reach out to members of thwe Islamic Organisation Conference in Africa and Asia. The on-line survey and the media campaign will also invite for participation from other continents. In view of this, the workshop has two main purposes: - To discuss with various stakeholders the perception of the risks and measures taken to prevent, educate and denounce hate speech (and its actual relevance for young people) - To identify common global approaches to deal with/associate youth participation in Internet governance within a human rights framework.

Draft Agenda of the workshop

Introduction of the workshop and panelists
Freedom of expression as and human rights: framework for combating hate speech on-line. Introduction to the Council of Europe project and on-line campaign.
Youth and hate speech on-line: results of surveys on attitudes and perceptions of young people about hate speech on-line
Combating hate speech and fighting for freedom of expression: the case of #SupportYemen
Global values and approaches to promote freedom of participation and expression of young people on-line and combating hate speech? What can be learnt? What shall we promote? --> Conclusions.
Brief round of feed-back and evaluation.