A new educational documentary created by Dr Talita Dias, former Shaw Foundation Junior Research Fellow in Law at Jesus and currently the Senior Research Fellow in the International Law Programme at Chatham House, seeks to explain to the general public what are the risks and consequences of online hate speech, how it is and should be regulated internationally, and what policy strategies different actors can adopt to address its harmful impact.
The documentary, ‘Online Hate Speech: International Law and Policy’, was produced and directed by Dr Dias with the support of Jesus College, Oxford University’s Public Engagement with Research (PER) Seed Fund, the Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict (ELAC) at the Blavatnik School of Government, and Oxford’s Law Faculty. Its key message is that the issue of online hate speech is complex, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to tackling it. Language is contextual and different countries have different laws. But international law is the starting point in providing basic principles and a common universal language that enables countries, online platforms and other actors to develop well-balanced policies to deal with the risks and consequences of online hatred.
The documentary contains references to historical and ongoing situations involving different types of hateful messages, such as the Holocaust, the Rwandan genocide, the situation of Rohingya in Myanmar, the United States Capitol insurrection in January 2021, and the 2021 Facebook revelations. It also features engaging animations that help explain some of the most complex issues that the documentary addresses.
The documentary’s centrepiece are interviews conducted by Dr Dias with experts in different relevant fields, including law, policy and anthropology: Professor Kate O’Regan (inaugural Director of Oxford’s Bonavero Institute of Human Rights, and a former judge of the South African Constitutional Court), Professor David Kaye (University of California, Irvine, and former UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression), Cathy Buerger (Director of Research, Dangerous Speech Project) and Professor Theodor Meron CMG (Visiting Professor of Law, Trinity College, Oxford and Former President of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals and Former Judge of the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda).