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ONU – Evento di Alto Livello su “Addressing hate speech and preventing incitement to discrimination, hostility and violence: Synergies within the United Nations System.”

Discorso pronunciato dall’Ambasciatrice Mariangela Zappia, Rappresentante Permanente dell’Italia presso le Nazioni Unite, al’Evento ONU di Alto Livello su “Addressing hate speech and preventing incitement to discrimination, hostility and violence: Synergies within the United Nations System.” —

Thank you very much and it’s a true pleasure for me to co-host together with the Office of Prevention of Genocide and Responsibility to Protect bul also with my friend, the Ambassador of Morocco, we have been together in this discussion many times, also in Geneva, and also together with my new friend, the Ambassador of Bangladesh, a Country that has been in the frontline in this important discussion we are having today.
This discussion is particularly relevant as the phenomenon of hate speech spreads around the world, especially, as the Ambassador of Morocco was saying, through the new digital technologies and the social media. More and more often, the members of different social groups, including the persons belonging to ethnic and religious minorities, are targeted by hate speech and are the object of multiple forms of discrimination.

In this context, the rise of religion-based violence, against both individuals and entire communities, its regularity and systematic nature, is specially worrying as the vulnerability of minority religious communities in many areas of the world progressively increases.

The promotion of interreligious and intercultural dialogue is an integral part of an effective response to this phenomenon, as it fosters mutual understanding and respect for diversity, reaffirming the important contribution of religions and religious leaders in promoting peace and in this respect I want to recognize the very imprtant role that your Office, Under-Secretary Adama Dieng, is playing .

The UN action in combating hate speech, through the implementation of the relevant UN Strategy and Plan of Action launched last year, is essential, in particular for its focus on prevention and on the identification of the root causes of hate speech. When talking about prevention, we believe that religious actors and leaders, due to their influence on a vast majority of people, play a crucial role in promoting peace, solidarity and mutual knowledge and understanding between different cultures, contrasting those voices that promote a culture of oppression and hatred. The many positive examples of political mediation achieved through the efforts of religious leaders testify the importance of their work. We therefore value very much the Fez Plan of Action, launched by the Secretary-General in 2017, it truly provides useful recommendations to religious leaders and actors on how to prevent hate speech, and we see the operational connection between the different UN initiatives in this field.

The protection and the promotion of human rights is a longstandingpriority of Italy’s foreign policy and within our current mandate on the Human Rights Council, we are again committed to support initiatives and resolutions aimed at preventing and combating racism and racial discrimination, xenophobia, intolerance and all forms of discrimination, including when based on sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as initiatives aimed at protecting and promoting freedom of religion or belief and the rights of persons belonging to religious and ethnic minorities.

We are aware that a sustained effort is needed and we believe that education and cross-cultural, cross-religious and interfaith dialogue are crucial instruments.

Education, particular, is a powerful tool for the promotion of tolerance and non-discrimination, and can contribute in a meaningful way to promoting tolerance and to the elimination of discrimination, intolerance and violence based on religion or belief.

Let me at this point mention some of the numerous projects and initiatives on the topic of inter-religious dialogue and on the impact of the religious phenomenon on international relations which Italy promotes and supports. Among these, the establishment of the European Academy of Religions, an exchange platform dedicated to academies and scientific associations, research centers and institutions from Europe and the surrounding region. This network is committed to supporting academic and inter-disciplinary exchanges, so as to promote mutual respect between communities of different religions or beliefs.

Second, we provide humanitarian assistance to religious minorities in situations of particular vulnerability, in particular in the Middle East, but not only, through interventions aimed at helping displaced populations and promoting reconciliation between the different ethnic and religious groups involved in conflicts.

Finally, let me mention the fight against anti-Semitism which is also a fundamental component of Italy’s action both domestically and at the international level. We are engaged in many activities aimed at educating to respect and value differences, in order to prevent all forms of violence and discrimination, and to preserve the memory of the Holocaust. Significant attention is devoted to the training of teachers, who are tasked with transmitting the value of memory to young people. Last October the Italian Senate adopted a motion aimed at establishing a Commission that will deal with the fight against the phenomena of intolerance, racism, anti-Semitism and instigation to hatred and violence, on the initiative of Senator Liliana Segre, survivor of the Holocaust and witness of the Italian Shoah.

A few days ago, the Italian Government appointed a national coordinator for the fight against antisemitism and “embraced” the definition of antisemitism, as proposed by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.

These are important things that marks our engagement.