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Words Matter: a Crash Course in Stomping Out Hate Speech, online 7-31 October 2020

Hate Speech - Course





Words Matter: a Crash Course in Stomping Out Hate Speech
In cooperation with the United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect (OSAPG)


Online, 7-31 October 2020

Application deadline : 4 October 2020

Hate speech is a growing phenomenon across the world. As a manifestation of intolerance and hatred towards certain groups in society, hate speech is intertwined with hate crimes and discrimination, representing a threat to sustainable peace and social cohesion.

Because of the impact hate speech has on both on victims and societies at large, it is of utmost importance to address and counter it in a comprehensive way from the individual to the State level. Despite growing attention to hate speech, many still underestimate or do not fully grasp the consequences of it. 

The course is intended for university and post-graduate students, PhD candidates, media and other professionals, including United Nations (UN) personnel, as well as anyone interested in gaining an understanding of hate speech, how it manifests itself and what tools are available to combat it.  

Participants to this online course will have the opportunity to learn about the difference between hate speech and incitement to discrimination, hostility and violence, study the related legislative and policy frameworks, explore the link between freedom of expression and opinion, analyze the causes and consequences, consider the challenges posed by hate speech to societies, discuss ways to address and counter hate speech, and learn how to build online and offline resilience to hate speech. Special attention will be given to various dimensions of hate speech, including gender, and to contemporary challenges linked to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The course is organized by the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) and the United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect (OSAPG). The course is free of charge.

The course’s schedule will be the following:

Week 1 – Hate speech: what does it involve?

  • Key concepts: hate speech, bias motivation
  • Hate speech and freedom of expression and opinion: where is the boundary? 
  • Hate speech, discrimination and hate crimes
  • Gender and other dimensions of hate speech 
  • Root causes of hate speech 
  • Hate speech consequences and the impact on societies

Week 2 – Responding to hate speech: the international legal and policy framework 

  • Combating online and offline hate speech at the national, regional and global level: legal and policy framework
  • International and national mechanisms to sanction expressions of hatred
  • The importance of a victim-centered approach 

Week 3 – Hate speech and sustaining peace

  • Hate speech in fragile contexts (electoral violence, atrocity crimes, violent extremism and terrorism)
  • The UN Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech
  • Monitoring and analysing hate speech 
  • Building societal resilience against hate speech 
  • The role of media in countering hate speech 
  • Supporting alternative and positive narratives to counter hate speech

Week 4 – Are you trolling?

  • Internet trolling, spreading of social hate and fake news 
  • Understanding tactics used by hate groups 
  • Gender perspective in online hate speech: body-shaming and hate speech as a form of violence against women
  • Legal challenges linked to hate speech online, including anonymity, speed of circulation, and transnational nature of the offense
  • Using social media for advocacy
  • Building digital resilience

The topics will be explored in a practical way: through experts’ presentations, interactive and reflective exercises and assignments, case-studies, and knowledge tests.

The Faculty is composed of international experts from UNICRI and OSAPG and other relevant United Nations entities, as well as leading scholars and academics from internationally recognized universities and from international and non-governmental organizations, and civil society.

For further information on the application process, entry requirements, certificate of participation, please visit the relevant page or send a message to