Scouts join call to stop hate speech
VIENNA, Austria – Five Scouts from the Asia-Pacific and Interamerican Scout Regions joined nearly 200 prominent religious leaders, theologians, diplomats and representatives from intergovernmental organisations (IGOs) and non-government organisations (NGOs) from around the world for two days in Vienna for a conference that focused on discussing and sharing ideas on countering hate speech.
Hosted by King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID), “The Power of Words: The Role of Religion, Media and Policy in Countering Hate Speech” provided an opportunity for the delegates to share their experiences on hate speech and discuss efforts on how to counter it and to at least lessen its spread. Emphasis was placed on insights from the Arab Region, highlighting testimonies from Christian, Druze, Jewish, Muslim and Yazidi communities.
The two days were packed with speeches, panel discussions and workshops, culminating in the formulation of recommendations to help the media, religious and policy sectors to collaborate in tackling hate speech.
The World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM) was represented by Juan Lucas Russiani (Argentina), Patrick McCormick (Australia), David Beraha (Brasil), Ee Yeng Lim (Malaysia) and Kaung Myat Htoo (Myanmar).
In his address, Adama Dieng, the United Nations Secretary General’s Special Advisor for the Prevention of Genocide, spoke on how hate speech targets our universal human values. “We have to bear in mind that hate speech is an attack on diversity,” he said. “It is an attack on tolerance, it is an attack on peace, it is an attack on the principles and values which are the backbone of the United Nations charter. And the same values we find in each and every religion.”
Representatives from the World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM) also weighed in when asked how young people could help counter hate speech.
“As Messengers of Peace, we should be at the forefront of dialogue, of reaching out to other people. We will continue to work together to reach our goal – to create a better world,” said Juan Lucas Russiani from Scouts de Argentina.
According to Ee Yeng Lim from Persekutuan Pengakap Malaysia, “We have been too long, too modest to act. Now, we must act!”
“Through WOSM’s Scouts for SDGs initiative, we [Scouts] can all play a role in helping to address SDG Goal 9 (Reducing Inequality) and SDG 16 (Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions). The conference provided us with an amazing opportunity to more about countering the spread of hate speech and to hear about the ways religious, political/diplomatic and media leaders are working to reduce and end hate speech in their communities, “ said Patrick McCormick, the Assistant National Commissioner for Sustainability of Scouts Australia.
Around the world, hate speech is on the rise and requires a coordinated response from religious leaders, policymakers, journalists, general public, as well as Scouts – both to address the main drivers of hate speech and to provide a coordinated response which upholds the fundamental rights and inclusion of all communities and individuals.
In the same conference, KAICIID also announced that in support of the United Nations Plan of Action on Hate Speech, it is allocating 1.5 million euros for initiatives to counter hate speech in 2020.
with reports from Patrick McCormick, Scouts Australia