"The hate factor in political speech – Where do responsibilities lie?"

Warsaw, 18-19 September 2013

The Conference is organised by the Polish Ministry of Administration and Digitization and the Council of Europe, with the support of the EEA Grants and Norway Grants.

It will address the question of hate speech emerging in public and political debates; a democratic malaise of our times.

The "hate factor" in political speech manifests itself in exclusionist, stigmatising, dehumanising words against a group of individuals. It raises questions about the exercise of freedom of expression in a democracy.

This Conference aims at shedding light on the grey areas of political speech by focusing on speech which contains hatred and warrants a political and societal response rather than speech which clearly merits a criminal justice response. The Conference is built on three interlinked sessions which will focus respectively on legal, political and societal aspects of the ways to tackle hate factor in political speech.

Discussions regarding the existing legal frameworks, including the case-law of European Court of Human Rights, will touch upon the question of whether a legally binding definition of hate speech is possible or desirable. The role of politicians to overcome party differences against the use of hate speech will be also considered.

Other subjects addressed at the Conference will be the role of civil society, including victims' associations, and the media in combating hate speech and the challenges brought about by technological advances such as the Internet .

A report of the Council of Europe's Group of Eminent Persons concluded in 2011 that "better common life in 21st-century Europe depends relatively little on compulsion, and much more on convincing people of different cultures and beliefs that they actually need to live together, and on finding ways to make that easier." The Conference will discuss how to give practical meaning to this objective.

The Conference discussions aim at launching a dialogue between various actors in order to identify further action, rendering democratic practices more resilient in the face of hate speech. It will explore the role of European institutions in ensuring the objective of a "better common life".



Video message of Thorbjørn Jagland, Secretary General of the Council of Europe

Interview with Jean-Luc Nancy, philosopher