Pre 03 2021

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28 June 2021 | 10:00-11:00 CEST (TBC) | Studio D
Consolidated programme 2021 overview / Day 0

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Working title: Combating hate speech
Council of Europe Pre-event

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Session teaser

This Pre-event will discuss with representatives of all stakeholders the challenges of implementing effectively the regulatory frameworks being developed in Europe today. With the aim to inform the ongoing work of the two CoE experts committees and the CY-T, and foster stronger multi-stakeholder cooperation to deliver human rights and rule of law online.

Session description

Council of Europe Monitoring bodies1 record an increase in hate speech online, with detrimental consequences for human dignity and the enjoyment of their human rights by members of minority groups, including Roma, refugees, LGBTI persons, as well as persons in different professions, including particularly female journalist and politicians.

When addressing hate speech, in terms of applicable liability and required responses, it’s important to distinguish the following categories:

  1. hate speech that is subject to criminal liability,
  2. hate speech that does not reach the threshold for criminal liability, but is subject to civil or administrative liability and
  3. hate speech that does not entail criminal, civil or administrative liability but still raises concerns in terms of tolerance, civility and respect for the rights of others.

There is common agreement on the principle that hate speech that passes the threshold of criminal liability should be sanctioned both off- and online. Similarly, appropriate measures should address online hate speech that is sanctioned under civil and administrative law. How to enforce such measures and uphold ‘the rule of law’ in the online environment however remains one of the many points of debate.

Regulatory approaches to address hate speech online are developing at a rapid pace in Europe, proposed by national authorities, the EU (e.g., via the Digital Services Act) and by internet intermediaries themselves.

The Council of Europe seeks to provide guidance to its member states in devising a human rights framework to address the growing challenge of hate speech, online and offline.

The Additional Protocol to the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime (ETS No. 189), concerning the criminalisation of acts of a racist and xenophobic nature committed through computer systems, extends the Convention’s scope, including its substantive, procedural and international cooperation provisions. It provides framework to address online hate speech that passed the criminal liability threshold. In addition, the framework for procedural powers and international cooperation tools provided by the Budapest Convention extends to any criminal activity, and can be used for investigation of and cooperation on hate speech offences reaching criminal liability threshold. Two Expert Committees of the Council of Europe have been tasked to draft soft law and guiding principles to address hate speech and content moderation related issues based on the evolving case law of the European Court of Human Rights and existing Council of Europe standards.2


1 See among others: ECRI Annual Reports (; Country-specific monitoring of the implementation of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (; Anti-Gypsyism / Discrimination (; Combating Sexist Hate Speech (

2 Committee of Expert on Combating Hate Speech (ADI/MSI-DIS) and Committee of Experts on Freedom of Expression and Digital Technologies (MSI-DIG)


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Pre-events should give the opportunity to create synergies with 3 rd parties i.e. Dynamic Coalitions, Partners. No session principles apply. They are held on day zero in parallel to setting up the venue for EuroDIG. We provide limited technical support.

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Further reading

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