Restrict Freedoms, Should Promote Tolerance
Conference on Interreligious Cooperation and The Prevention of Incitement
to National, Racial and Religious Hatred
United Nations Office Geneva • Room XXIV (24) • 14:00 - 16:30
III The role of civil society
The best protection against hate crimes and against the destructive and painful effects of hate speech and racial incitement is respect for the dignity of other people, instilled by parents, schools, religious organizations, and through the arts and media. Perhaps I am cynical after so many years working in human rights, but I fear it is not difficult to understand why so many nondemocratic states have jumped on the strong language in ICERD—it is because ICERD makes the state responsible for eliminating discrimination through coercive measures.
Let me quote my friend Jacob again: “The idea that deliberate state action—even at the expense of individual liberty—is the principle vehicle for social change and human progress is the hallmark of socialism, fascism, communism and in some cases forms of progressivism.” Such laws can legitimize and justify repression, as in the case of our friends in the Russian Chechen Friendship Society.
Dr. Aaron Rhodes - fr. Director of the
International Helsinki Federation
is international Human Rights Consultant