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UNESCO and partners launch first education-focused guide on addressing hate speech
Costa Rica, Central America

27 March 2023

How can education help address hate speech globally? This question was the focus of the Global launch of the new guide on addressing hate speech through education which was jointly produced by UNESCO and the United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect (UNOSAPG).

The event took place on 27 March 2023 at the University for Peace in San Jose, Costa Rica, with UN system representatives, ministers of education from six countries, government officials and world-renowned experts attending both online and in person. The new guide is the first entirely education-focused tool for policy-makers and key education stakeholders to ensure that hate speech, online and offline, is effectively addressed and countered in and out of the classroom.


Why is it important?
“We are aware of the harm caused by hate speech and recognize its danger. That is why UNESCO is committed to promoting understanding of hate speech by developing educational programs that address its root causes and counter its manifestations, both online and offline”, said Stefania Giannini, Assistant Director-General for Education of UNESCO.

The prevalence of hate speech online and offline is a growing concern worldwide. It threatens the social cohesion and well-being of individuals and communities, fueling discrimination, intolerance, and even violence. In this context, education is crucial in raising awareness, promoting dialogue, and preventing the spread of hate speech. By equipping individuals with the knowledge, skills, and values to promote respect, tolerance, and understanding, education can help to create a more peaceful and inclusive society.

“It is important to ensure that we learn ffom history, including in education curricula teaching about past atrocity crimes and the early warning signs such as hate speech that led to their commission”, said Alice Wairimu Nderitu, United Nations Special Adviser on Genocide Prevention, in her opening remarks.


Leading by example
Costa Rica, the host country of the event, shared their experience in adopting a policy framework and roadmap to deal with hate speech at all levels of education. Under the UN leadership and in cooperation with the private sector and academia, in previous years country initiated a massive study into the prevalence of hate speech in Costa Rican social media that revealed an alarming rise in hateful conversations mainly targeting foreigners, women and LGBTQI+ people. These findings informed the Plan of Costa Rica Against Hate Speech and Discrimination, launched in July 2021, which focuses on further research, awareness-raising campaigns and creating a first-of-its-kind National Observatory on Hate Speech managed by the UN system and the University of Costa Rica.

At the event, Ministers of Education and government officials from Argentina, Ecuador, France, Morocco, Spain and Portugal also presented their policies and approaches to addressing hatred and discrimination through education. They expressed their unwavering political commitment to prioritize the fight against hate speech.

The global launch was organized in partnership with the Ministry of Public Education of Costa Rica (MEP), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Costa Rica, the United Nations Office for the Prevention of Genocide (UNOSAPG), and the United Nations Resident Coordinator’s Office in Costa Rica.