Tackling Online Hate Speech through Content Moderation: The Legal Framework Under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

Bahador, Hammer and Livingston (eds), Countering online hate and its offline consequences in conflict-fragile settings (Syracusa University Press, forthcoming, 2024)

19 Pages Posted: 12 Jul 2022 Last revised: 27 Jan 2024

See all articles by Talita Dias

Talita Dias

Chatham House; University of Oxford - Blavatnik School of Government

Date Written: June 30, 2022

Abstract

Hate speech has had unprecedented consequences in the digital age. Despite being a global problem, international legal responses to it have been slow-coming and patchy. One of the core international legal instruments on the matter is the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). While generally protecting freedom of expression, Article 19(3) of the ICCPR does allow limitations to speech insofar as these are provided by law, necessary and proportionate for a legitimate reason. Likewise, Article 20 requires states parties to prohibit by law war propaganda as well as any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence. This paper builds on the existing work of United Nations bodies to provide more granular and well-calibrated guidance on the application of these provisions to online hate speech, particularly in fragile settings. It does so by offering a classification of online hate speech, based on the distinct legal consequences that different forms of hate speech attract under Articles 19 and 20 of the ICCPR. Three categories are proposed, along with respective content moderation measures: a) prohibited, b) limited, and c) free speech acts. The paper then applies this framework to fragile settings.

Keywords: Online hate speech, Content Moderation, International Human Rights Law, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Freedom of Expression

Suggested Citation

Dias, Talita, Tackling Online Hate Speech through Content Moderation: The Legal Framework Under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (June 30, 2022). Bahador, Hammer and Livingston (eds), Countering online hate and its offline consequences in conflict-fragile settings (Syracusa University Press, forthcoming, 2024), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4150909

Talita Dias (Contact Author)

Chatham House ( email )

10 St James's Square
London, SW1Y 4LE
United Kingdom

University of Oxford - Blavatnik School of Government ( email )

120 Walton Street
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX2 6GG
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.bsg.ox.ac.uk/

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