VIENNA, 28 October 2019 - More than 190 international delegates and guests, among them Heinz Fischer, former President of Austria and Adama Dieng, Special Advisor to the United Nations Secretary General for the Prevention of Genocide, will gather in Vienna on 30-31 October for a conference organised by the International Dialogue Centre (KAICIID) as a response to the UN Plan of Action on Hate Speech presented earlier this year.
Dr. Fischer and Mr. Dieng will address the conference, entitled “The Power of Words: The Role of Religion, Media and Policy in Countering Hate Speech” on October 30. The high level speakers opening the conference also include Ján Figel, Special Envoy for the promotion of freedom of religion or belief outside the European Union and Cardinal Miguel Ayuso Guixot, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, who represents the Holy See at KAICIID’s Council of Parties and is member of the Centre’s Board.
Other experts in the field, such as Sir Charles Hoare, Secretary and Envoy to the Bishop of Truro’s Independent Review into Christian Persecution and Ingrid Brodnig, the Austrian author and expert on hate speech and misinformation on the web, will be among the specialists joining panels and working sessions at the conference.
The bulk of conference delegates will be from the Arab region, where hate speech has been a major cause of division and violence. H.E Sheikh Abdallah bin Bayyah, President of the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies; as well as a senior representative of the Muslim World League will be among the participants.
Religious leaders representing the Arab region’s Christian, Druze, Jewish, Muslim and Yazidi communities will also attend. Many of them are part of the KAICIID-supported Interreligious Platform for Dialogue and Cooperation in the Arab World. The conference will draw also on contributions by members of organisations such as the KAICIID-supported Muslim Jewish Leadership Council (MJLC), as well as other European experts, in order to produce shared perspectives and initiatives common to both regions.
“Hate speech presents mankind with a huge challenge,” said Faisal Bin Muaammar, Secretary General of KAICIID. “Magnified in terms of reach and ferocity by the digital age, hate speech is a key driver of discord within the human family, setting the conditions for misunderstanding, division and even incitement leading to violence. Fighting for human rights presupposes a desire to fight hate speech”.
“In keeping with its own mission to foster intercultural and interreligious dialogue, and in full alignment with United Nations initiatives aimed at preventing incitement to violence based on religious identity, KAICIID is happy to be creating a truly international forum aimed at countering the trend towards hate speech in the political, religious, educational and media spheres”.
KAICIID is convening this conference as part of its ongoing support for international efforts to address and prevent some of the consequences of hate speech. The Centre is fully aligned with the United Nations Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech launched in June 2019 by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres with the aim of coordinating efforts to identify, prevent and confront hate speech.
Over the last four years, the Centre has been involved in the development and implementation of the “Plan of Action for Religious Leaders and Actors to Prevent and Counter Incitement to Violence that Could Lead to Atrocity Crimes,” launched by UN SG Guterres in July 2017. The Plan was the result of a process of global consultations led by the United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect with the support of KAICIID, the World Council of Churches and the Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers.
The Centre also contributed to deliberations leading to the UN-sponsored initiative “In Unity and Solidarity for Safe and Peaceful Worship” produced earlier this year by the United Nations Alliance of Civilisations and aimed at the protection of worshippers in the aftermath of attacks on Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand, the Jewish community in Pittsburgh in the United States and on Christians in Sri Lanka on Easter Day.
KAICIID also operates and facilitates initiatives across its global programmes aimed at fighting hate speech and at the promotion of the responsible use of media, particularly social media.
The Vienna conference deliberations will be based around four basic arenas – media, legislation and policymaking, education and religious and pastoral oversight. The conference will produce an action plan and declaration based on the inputs of its international delegates and other invitees.
During proceedings, KAICIID’s Secretary General will also announce a major initiative aimed at countering hate speech across its operations in the Arab region, Myanmar, Nigeria and the Central African Republic.