Digital art design by Julie Mardin
“As new channels for hate speech are reaching wider audiences than ever at lightning speed, we all – the United Nations, governments, technology companies, educational institutions – need to step up our response.”
UN Secretary General António Guterres
Paper presentation by Sevgin OKTAY, Representative of The Light Millennium to the United Nations Department of Global Communications
Workshop titled: GREAT GOALS, UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES:  How to handle the complexity of our technology, and make true progress for our social and environmental well being

as part of the
68th United Nations Civil Society Conference,
Salt Lake City, Utah, August 26 – 28, 2019
Workshop Date: Wednesday, August 28
Venue: Salt Lake City Palace | Room# 151 DEF | Time: 10:00 – 11:15 a.m.

RUN-DOWN and WelcomingPHOTO Album of the Workshop | • BOOKLET with Bios (Abstract included) | • FLYERMEDIA Release (Updated on August 19, 2019)


Sevgin Oktay

As a last speaker, I would like to touch upon another unintended consequences of a well-meant concept, namely the “Freedom of Speech,” which could be used as a tool for “Hate Speech” unless it is protected with realistic caveats.

Before we define the contours or boundaries of Freedom of Speech, it is perhaps helpful to be reminded of what UN Secretary General António Guterres, warned us recently:

“As new channels for hate speech are reaching wider audiences than ever at lightning speed, we all – the United Nations, governments, technology companies, educational institutions – need to step up our response.”

Firstly, what is Hate Speech?  Hate speech is speech that attacks a person or a group on the basis of attributes such as race, religion, ethnic origin, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity.  Hate speech in the United States is not regulated, in contrast to that of most other liberal democracies, such as EU which limits Hate Speech while protecting Freedom of Speech within its contours.  The U.S. Supreme Court on the other hand has repeatedly ruled that hate speech is legally protected free speech under the First Amendment.  With all due respect to the court system in this country, I submit that the courts are derelict in carrying out the laws of the land. Under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution,

Obscenity/Fighting words/Defamation (including libel and slander)/Child pornography/ Perjury/ Blackmail / Incitement to imminent lawless action/True threats/Solicitations to commit crimes are not protected speech.  The elements against hate speech are embedded in these eight articles of the First Amendment.  For example, defamation is a form of hate speech and yet hate speech is protected speech, the supreme court of the land intones.   In contrast, the UN charter explicitly lays out in Secretary General’s words “ . . . Respect for human rights, without discrimination based on race, sex, language or religion, is a thread running through the United Nations Charter.” 

So, in concert with “The United Nations Strategy and Plan of Action” encompassing “an ambitious programme to coordinate efforts across the UN system to identify, prevent and confront hate speech,” Light Millennium organization is proposing an SDG #18 called “Empathetic Speech,” that is, speech devoid of incendiary or racist lies and hate speech that comes with “Unbridled Free Speech.” More specifically, we are lending full support to the two overriding objectives as articulated by the UN Secretary General António Guterres:

“First, it aims to enhance our efforts to address the root causes of hate speech, in line with my prevention vision. These root causes include violence, marginalization, discrimination, poverty, exclusion, inequality, lack of basic education, and weak state institutions.”

Continuing with Secretary General’s remarks, “We are addressing many of these issues as we support governments in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. But this new strategy goes further, recommending a coordinated response, including efforts to identify those who engage in hate speech, and those who are best placed to challenge it. The strategy promotes education as a preventive tool that can raise awareness and bring about a shared sense of common purpose to address the seeds of hatred. “

We are pleased that along with the United Nations, other organizations such as the COUNCIL on FOREIGN RELATIONS (CFR) headquartered in New York City are looking at world-wide ramifications of Hate Speech and asking questions such as

  • How wide is the problem?
  • Does social Media catalyze hate crimes?
  • How do platforms enforce their rules?
  • How do countries regulate hate speech online?
  • What are the prospects for international prosecution?

while continuing to address questions of unbridled free speech and its unintended consequences. 

# # #

WHY ZERO WASTE? Solutions to Climate Change in the “NOW”

For the full Photo Album of the Session is available via clicking on here >

RUN-DOWN of the Workshop along with the Welcoming Remarks & the Introduction of The Light Millennium
PHOTO Album of the Workshop |
BOOKLET with Bios (Abstract included) |
MEDIA Release (Updated on August 19, 2019)

• The U.S. Turkish Library & Museum Project is under The Light Millennium Organization, Associated with the Department of Global Communications of the United Nations – UN-DGC-CSO  (formerly #UN.DPI.NGO)
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"The U.S. Turkish Library & Museum For Friendship and Peace" project joined, and has been produced under the umbrealla of The Light Millennium Organization effective on October 15, 2015.