WJC @ UNHRC: Opportunities and challenges of new and emerging digital technologies

Represenative delivering the statement: Mr. Sacha Elkaim 

Thank you, Madam President, 

While acknowledging the advantages technology holds for the promotion and protection of human rights, the World Jewish Congress is gravely concerned about how the misuse of these digital tools can seriously undermine those rights this body strives to defend. 

During the outbreak of COVID-19, absurd falsehoods, conspiracy myths, antisemitic and racist statements were disseminated via the internet. These ranged from misleading information regarding the coronavirus and related health measures, to attacks accusing Jews and other minorities for supposedly having created and propagated the virus. We have observed that the extensive use of new technologies by many, has allowed the dissemination of hateful rhetoric on online platforms. Rightwing extremists are also taking advantage of these new tools to spread classic antisemitism linked to the coronavirus, in addition to anti-black, misogynic and homophobic sentiments. 

Unfortunately, hate speech does not stop online but leads to tragic consequences offline. For example, the perpetrators of the Christchurch and Halle attacks, which led to the senseless murder of dozens in places of worship, promoted their neo-Nazi doctrines online before taking action, broadcasting their atrocities live to glorify hatred. They aimed to exploit new technologies to incite others to commit violence. We owe it to these victims to take concrete actions and enact legislation that will lead to the swift removal of offensive material. 

The United Nations, governments and civil society must find ways to utilize and incentivize these new tools to promote ideas of peaceful coexistence. 

Members of this panel, how can we better leverage and regulate modern technology to promote objectives that will oppose extremism and prevent radicalization? 

Thank you. 
 

To read more about WJC's activities at the 44th session of the United Nations Human Right's Council, click here

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