Expressions of hate speech both online and offline and its impact on European societies are a major concern for the Council of Europe, as they often represent expressions of discrimination and are, or can lead to, human rights violations. 

The Committee of Ministers made the Council of Europe the first and only international intergovernmental organisation to have adopted an official definition of hate speech. The organisations political bodies, the Parliamentary Assembly, and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, together with the Committee of Ministers have adopted charters and recommendations providing guidelines and setting human rights standards for the member states to support them in dealing with hate speech and taking measures to support victims.

The European Commission again Racism and Intolerance monitors problems of racism, xenophobia, antisemitism, intolerance and discrimination. Based on its monitoring findings, ECRI published General Policy Recommendation No.15 on combating hate speech providing guidelines to the member states of the Council of Europe on how to counter this phenomenon.

The organisation addresses hate speech and discrimination through its work with the members states, European civil society organisations and human rights bodies through the Conference of International NGO’s, the Commissioner for Human Rights, the European Court of Human Rights and programmes to promote Democracy, Human Rights and Rule of Law.