Virtual Lecture – Tackling Online Hate Speech Through Content Moderation: The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

Wednesday 12 January 2022, 10:00 am – 11:00 am EST, online (Washington DC, USA)


Hate speech is not a new phenomenon but it has had unprecedented consequences in the age of social media. From developed countries to war-torn regions, online hate speech has led to violence and discrimination against individuals and groups on the basis of their identity. Yet international legal rules on the matter are general and scarce. In particular, while Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) protects freedom of expression, it provides that speech may be limited to protect the ‘rights or reputations of others’ as well as ‘national security’, ‘public order,’ or ‘public health or morals’. Likewise, Article 20 prohibits war propaganda and ‘advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence’. However, the Covenant has not defined those concepts, nor have relevant bodies issued sufficient guidance on implementing those provisions. This chapter seeks to fill that legal gap. It builds on the work of relevant United Nations bodies to provide guidance on how states and social media companies can moderate online hate speech consistently with the ICCPR and with due deference to contextual niceties. Part I outlines the substantive legal framework applicable to hateful rhetoric on social media. Part II provides specific guidance on applying this legal framework to content moderation. The chapter advances three overarching claims. First, serious types of advocacy for hatred must be prohibited and removed, provided that parameters are laid down in law and access to justice is available on an individual basis. Second, states’ binding obligations under international human rights law to protect and limit speech require close partnerships with social media companies. Third, states are accountable for past harms caused by their own agents and have positive duties to ensure that social media companies and individuals respect human rights online.


Find out more information and book your free place here:

Leave a comment


Join the Network

Join the network today to receive the latest news, publications and events straight into your inbox!

Latest from Twitter