Hate speech is on the rise across Europe, jeopardising social cohesion and putting human rights under threat. In the Western Balkans, hate speech particularly targets members of vulnerable groups, who have already been affected by stigma and discrimination during the COVID-19 pandemic. To counter this phenomenon, the European Union and the Council of Europe launched on 15 December a new campaign for the Western Balkans – “Block the hatred. Share the love.”
Considering the epidemiological situation, the campaign will take place entirely online, through dedicated Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages: “Block the hatred. Share the love.” and will be ongoing in the years to come. Civil activists, journalists, students and all those who think that love can fight hate, are invited to be part of this campaign by following and sharing the posts, by using their messages to respond to various forms of hate affecting their private and community life or that of family members, friends or any other individuals.
“Not only institutions, but also people, each and every individual, should be ready to respond to hate speech. Today, I joined the campaign to say ‘BLOCK THE HATRED, SHARE THE LOVE’ and I’m inviting you to do the same. Join us and keep following the campaign in the years to come”, said the Head of the EU Delegation to the Council of Europe, Meglena Kuneva.
The Director of the Office of Council of Europe Directorate General of Programmes, Verena Taylor, added: “Our anti-discrimination body, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance, has produced clear guidelines for states, and for civil society, on how to address hate speech. One visible and strong instrument is the No Hate Speech campaign, launched in the framework of the Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Turkey. We invite all to join the Europe-wide movement against hate speech, to take a stand for diversity and equality”.
The No-Hate Speech Ambassadors, prominent public figures from the Western Balkans, will actively take part in the campaign.
The campaign is implemented under the action on “Promotion of diversity and equality in the Western Balkans”, that is a part of the joint European Union/Council of Europe programme “Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Turkey 2019-2022”, implemented by the Anti-Discrimination Department of the Council of Europe.