Facing All the Facts – conference in Brussels

The week of the Facing All the Facts conference marked the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the documents Eleanor Roosevelt called the international Magna Carta for all men everywhere. The event focused on an important human rights issue: hate speech and hate crime, focusing on the role of the internet in fuelling them, but also in prevention. All stakeholders have an important role in prevention – this was emphasised by the hosting Microsoft’s Vice President, John Frank, and in line with this, Parents International was contributing on behalf of parents as stakeholders.

Facing the Facts is an ongoing project coordinated by CEJI developing a multitude of online courses for police, government officials, civil society organisations and online community moderators, based on action research done in 6 countries. During the conference educators and journalists were also identified as audience for such trainings that may be developed in the last 6 months of the project.

Several thought-provoking issues were raised and discussed, for example the question whether victims receive the support they need, how many attacks are necessary to identify it as a problem, whether the present system is a maze or a framework. A major emphasis was put on the content and quality of public authority – civil society cooperation and the need to understand and exploit its potential. Participants have agreed that there is still a long way to go, resulting from a lack of awareness and a lack of trust among other factors.

Another topic, especially relevant for Parents International was to identify and define the role of international organisations. It is, among other things, to keep the topic on the agenda, give space for those working in the field to meet internationally, and to fund activities. However, a warning was also given: although research evidence shows that this role is mostly seen as positive, there are question marks around possible ‘interference’ with national affairs and independence related to funding.

The role of civil society was identified as that of a ‘critical friend’. The challenge here lays with finding the right balance and preventing takeover of either criticism over friendship or friendship over criticism.

Several inspiring initiatives were introduced to the audience that may also inspire the reader:

Dangerous Speech Project

Moonshot

YouTuber Jazza John

Parents International is committed to participate in this work in order to help parents educating their children about hate speech and hate crime prevention; to make them able to identify and tackle the situation if their children become victims; and to work together with schools and teachers to prevent criminalisation of young offenders if possible by alternatives to prosecution.


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