Doha will host the first international conference of its kind in the region during the period from 16 to 17 February
The International Conference is organized by the National Human Rights Committee in cooperation with OHCHR, EP, GANHRI and IFG
Dr. Al Marri: The conference is an opportunity to promote human rights and combat incitement to hatred on social media platforms
The rapid expansion of digital communication infrastructure and advances in digital technology have caused profound societal change
we seek to develop ways to address the challenges and threats faced by social media activists
Doha: 4 December 2019
Dr. Ali bin Smaikh Al Marri, Chairman of the National Human Rights Committee, announced the completion of the arrangements for organizing the Doha International Conference on “Social Media: Challenges and Ways to Promote Freedoms and Protect Activists”, which will be held during the period from 16 to 17 February 2020 and organized by the NHRC In cooperation with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the European Parliament (EP), the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI) and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ). Al Marri noted that The conference will bring together more than 300 governmental and non-governmental organizations, human rights defenders, media workers, social media influencers, tech community representatives, relevant special rapporteurs, chairpersons of United Nations treaty bodies, judges, lawyers and victim representatives, as well as international and regional human rights mechanisms, national human rights institutions, research centers and other relevant bodies and organizations.
Dr. Al Marri noted that The aim of the international conference in Doha is to discuss the opportunities that social media have created for promoting human rights, and to explore recurrent forms of interference in the use of social media. In that context, the discussions will identify good practices and examples of social media use contributing to the exercise of human rights; explore the impact of restrictions to online speech established by national laws and policies on journalists, human rights defenders, political activists and social media influencers; as well as discuss the implementation of hate speech provisions in practice and the use of social media platforms to incite and spread hate speech, including against religious minorities.
Dr. Al Marri pointed out that Social media platforms have changed social and political communication in the world. Opportunities for exercising fundamental rights and freedoms of expression, assembly, association and participation in public life have been expanded in unparalleled ways. The rapid expansion of digital communication infrastructure and advances in digital technology have caused profound societal change, posing both challenges and opportunities for human rights and civic space.
The Chairman of the National Human Rights Committee pointed out that Protection of human rights today and in future will increasingly depend on our ability to articulate how to apply human rights principles to social media and make good use of those platforms. They have become an indispensable tool for the realization of a range of human rights and for boosting economic and social development. New technologies and interconnectedness have helped civil society networks to grow, including across borders.
Dr. Al Marri said Over the years, Over the years, governments and other groups struggling to assert their dominance in public debate have attempted to interfere with the social media in many different ways. As most of the social media platforms are private, technology companies also play a central role responding to multiple requests by authorities and the evolving legal and policy frameworks regulating expression online. Social media companies often establish parameters for moderating content and can be instrumental or detrimental in the response to potential online attacks aimed at chilling expression.
The conference will also explore how social media may be either an important tool for enhancing civic space or for spreading hatred online, which can lead to violence offline. Many social media platforms have therefore included in their terms and conditions specific prohibitions on ‘hate speech’. Some platforms recently updated their rules against hateful conduct to include language that dehumanizes others on the basis of religion. As highlighted by the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, “war starts in the minds and is cultivated by a reasoning fueled by often hidden advocacy of hatred. Positive speech is also the healing tool of reconciliation and peace-building in the hearts and minds”