UN chief calls for stemming online hate, bolstering social cohesion

UN secretary General Antonio Guterres addresses the media during a visit to the UN office in the capital Nairobi, Kenya on , May 3, 2023. (PHOTO / AP)

UNITED NATIONS – UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday called for efforts to curb online hate and invest in social cohesion.

"Hate is a danger to everyone – and so fighting it must be a job for everyone. We must collectively strengthen our defenses," the top UN official told the Security Council meeting on "the Values of Human Fraternity in Promoting and Sustaining Peace."

"We must reign in the hate that is spreading online," said the secretary-general.

The UN chief underscored that hate "fuels humanity's worst impulses," noting that it is a catalyst for polarization and radicalization, and a conduit for atrocity crimes.

We are working on a Global Digital Compact for an open, free, inclusive, and secure digital future for all, firmly anchored in human rights and nondiscrimination. 

Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary-General

"It is also a result of these crimes, contributing to horrific cycles of violence that can churn for decades. It greases the wheels of violence, frays the social fabric, and corrodes the pillars of stability. It is, in short, often the bloody heart of conflict," Guterres elaborated.

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"And as part of Our Common Agenda, we are working on a Global Digital Compact for an open, free, inclusive, and secure digital future for all, firmly anchored in human rights and nondiscrimination," he added.

The secretary-general called for efforts to "move toward evermore multi-ethnic and multi-religious societies" and "invest in social cohesion."

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"We need to ensure that every community feels respected in their unique identity while feeling valued as an integral part of society as a whole. We need to recognize diversity as a richness of all societies – not a threat," he said.

Guterres said that hate takes root in the soil of ignorance and fear. "But when we enrich the soil of knowledge with facts, science and historical accuracy, hatred cannot spread like a deadly weed."

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"That means ensuring quality education for everyone, everywhere, including women and girls. It means supporting education systems that instill respect for science and celebrate humanity in all its diversity. And it means a surge in education financing, peacebuilding and global solidarity," the secretary-general added.