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Key-Note Speech by Professor Irwin Cotler
Cotler, Irwin

Key-Note Speech by Professor Irwin Cotler

Prime Minister, Your Excellencies, Friends,

I am delighted to be here and to participate in the common cause which brings us together – the struggle against racism, against hate, against xenophobia, against anti-semitism, and against all forms of related intolerance; of this struggle against racism as part of the larger struggle for equality – for human rights and human dignity – for the mobilization for a global constituency of conscience in our time; and of this struggle for human rights and human dignity as being very much our struggle - as being, in the most profound existential sense of the word, the struggle for ourselves; because in what we say, or more importantly, in what we do - in our good deeds – we make a statement about ourselves as a people, we make a statement about ourselves as people. For we meet at a critical historical juncture in this struggle against racism and for human rights - a moment of remembrance and reminder - as Prime Minister Persson has so eloquently affirmed - and of witness and warning - as the Swedish anti-racist documentary film this morning has demonstrated.

We meet, as well, in the immediate aftermath of the fiftieth anniversary of the codification by the United Nations General Assembly in 1950 of the Nuremberg Principles, which have emerged as metaphor and message – source and inspiration – of what has come to be known as international humanitarian law in general, and international criminal law in particular; in the aftermath of the fiftieth anniversary of the European Convention on Human Rights, one of the more compelling, and effective, human rights treaties; in the aftermath of the thirty-fifth anniversary of the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination – the magna carta of anti-racism – whose normative principles and juridical import are sometimes insufficiently invoked and applied; and on the eve, as Mary Robinson has reminded us, of the World Conference Against Racism - an occasion for the reaffirmation of our commitment to the United Nations Charter - to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights - and to the notion, as she put it, that “we are all one human family.” Indeed, this Swedish documentary is also remembrance and reminder, witness and warning of another Nuremberg – the double entendre of Nuremberg – the Nuremberg of “jack boots” as well as “judgements;” in a word, the Nuremberg of racism rather than of law - or of racism institutionalized as law. This Nuremberg of Zieg Heil – of hate – came full circle recently when my young son, knowing of my interest in “Nuremberg” – and reading from Carol Matas’ children’s book on the Holocaust titled “Daniel’s Story” – pointed to the first reference in the book to Nuremberg: “Look Daddy,” he said, “it mentions Nuremberg.”

Yes, it mentioned Nuremberg – but it was the Nuremberg “Race Laws” – the Nuremberg
of Zieg Heil – not of the Nuremberg Principles.

And, as it happens, this “double entendre” of Nuremberg – of jackboots and judgements – of Nuremberg Race Laws and the Nuremberg Principles – finds parallel expression in the contemporary dialectics of the human rights revolution and counter-revolution; in the dialectics of international human rights law and the criminal violations of human rights; and in the present Dickensian moment of “the best of times and the worst of times.”Where, on the one hand, we are witnessing a literal explosion of human rights, where human rights has emerged as the organizing idiom of our political culture – as the “common language of humanity,” as the Vienna Declaration of Human Rights put it; and where things thought impossible just ten years ago - the withering away of the Soviet Union (if I can use a Marxist metaphor), the dismantling of apartheid, the march of democracy from Central Asia to Central America –have not only happened but have already been forgotten – or are in danger of being forgotten.

Moreover, this revolution of human rights has itself been anchored in, and inspired by, the revolution in human rights law – by the internationalization of human rights and the humanization of international law – by the emergence of the individual as subject and not object of human rights law.

Indeed, more has happened in this revolution in human rights law in the last five years, than happened in the previous fifty, including the dramatic jurisprudence of the International Criminal Tribunals in the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda where, as in the Akayesu case, for example, the Genocide Convention was invoked for the first time in fifty years by an International Tribunal to sanction racist gender violence in Rwanda; where, for the first time in fifty years, the Nuremberg Principle of non-immunity for international crimes committed by Heads of State was invoked and applied in the Pinochet case; where the first post-Nuremberg indictment of a former Head of State was issued in the Milosevic case; and where an international Diplomatic Conference in Rome adopted a Statute for the establishment of an International Criminal Court.

Indeed, I would hope that within 18 months we will witness one of the more compelling and dramatic human rights developments in the post-World War II era – namely, the coming into effect of the Treaty to Establish an International Criminal Court so as to bring the enemies of humankind – hostes humanis generis - to justice. Nor should it be forgotten that this revolution in international human rights and humanitarian law has been anchored in, and inspired by a revolution in trans-national civil society - in the non-governmental organizations who have underpinned this human rights movement; and by a global Internet which has not only revolutionized the access to information, but has revolutionized the mobilization of information - and thereby the “mobilization of shame against the human rights violators,” as John Humphrey put it, wherever they may be.
But I suspect that as I have been giving you this snapshot of human rights – of the human rights revolution – of the revolution in human rights law - many, if not most amongst you, those who are the bearers of the seismographs of history (and especially after seeing this film) may have been asking yourselves, “Where does this guy come from? Is this what they teach in the ivory towers of academe? Has he begun to imbibe the platitudes of politicians? Does he not know what is happening to real people - on the ground? Does he not know what is happening to threatened communities, to vilified minorities, to refugees, to the victims of racism and the like?”

Indeed, the homeless of America and Europe, the refugees of humanity, the hungry of Africa, the imprisoned of Asia and the Middle East, the women of the world - victims of a global gender apartheid - the brutalized child - each and every one of them can be forgiven if they think that this human rights revolution has somehow passed them by. While the ethnic cleansing in the Balkans, the displaced people of East Timor, the horror of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the agony of Rwanda, the assaulted children of Sierra Leone, the killing fields of Sudan – one can go on - are message and metaphor of the abandonment of, if not the assault upon, human rights in our time.

If this were not enough, democracies are challenged by the shadows and resonances of the past, by the language and face of racism and hate as we have seen in this film; and not only the language and face of racism and hate and xenophobia, but the expression and explosion of that racism and hate in acts of violence and terrorism.

And so we bear witness to the internationalization and globalization of racism and racist networks on the one hand, and yet the privatization and localization of racism and racist violence on the other; the convergence of extremists of the far right with extremists of the far left; the increasing stereotyping and scapegoating of l’étranger - the foreigner - be it the migrant, the refugee, the Roma, including the teaching of contempt and the demonizing of the other; the developing extremism of racism, and the propensity for violence amongst extremists; the proliferation of hate speech on the Internet and the use of the Internet to incite to hate crime; the use and abuse of music as a vehicle for racism and hate, including the mainstreaming and marketing of extremist populism; and the virulence of the Holocaust denial hate movement, a central tenet – as the Prime Minister has reminded us - of neo-nazi propaganda in our time – an Orwellian use of language and metaphor, which not only represents an assault on truth and memory, but an international criminal conspiracy to cover up some of the worst crimes of our century.

And so the questions become:

“What have we learned?”
“What can we do?”

Accordingly, may I now, in the second part of my remarks, summarize the existential lessons of Nuremberg Racism and Nuremberg Principles – of the agony and the hope of the Genocide Convention and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – the lessons to be learned and the action to be taken. For as Kierkegaard put it, “Life must be lived forwards, but it can only be understood backwards.” Here, with some of the existential lessons, the understanding of history, “Nuremberg” and its legacy fifty years later.

Lesson 1. Hate Speech, Hate Crimes, Hate Movements - The Road to Genocide.

One of the enduring lessons of Nazism - the ultimate metaphor for radical evil - is that Nazism almost succeeded not only because of the industry of death and technology of terror, but because of the ideology – the pathology - of hate. Indeed, it is this teaching of contempt, this demonizing of the other, this is where it all begins.

As the Supreme Court of Canada put it so well in validating and upholding the constitutionality of anti-hate legislation in Canada, “the Holocaust did not begin in the gas chambers. It began with words.” These, as the Court put it, “are the chilling facts of history –the catastrophic effects of racism.”

Fifty years later, these lessons not only remain unlearned, but the tragedy is being repeated. For we have become increasingly witness of late - from Central Asia to Central America - to a growing trafficking in hate - to a murderous teaching of contempt - to a demonizing of “the other,” - and which in Burundi, Bosnia and Rwanda included stateorchestrated incitement to ethnic cleansing and genocide.

What is needed, therefore, is a culture of respect in place of a culture of contempt – a culture of human rights in place of a culture of hate - inspired by and anchored in a set of foundational principles as set forth in comparative and international human rights jurisprudence in general, and domesticated in decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada in particular; including,

- Respect for the inherent dignity and worth of the human person; 
- Respect for the equal dignity and worth of all persons;
- Respect for the underlying values of a free and democratic society targeted by “assaultive” speech; 
- Respect for the right of minorities to protection against group vilifying speech; 
- Recognition of the substantial harm - as the Supreme Court put it - caused to the individual and group targets of hate speech, as well as to society as a whole;
- Fidelity to our international treaties – such as the International Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination - which have removed racist hate speech from the ambit of protected speech; 
- Respect for our multicultural heritage and the fragility of our multicultural democracy; and, 
- The need for an ethic and ethos of tolerance and diversity that respects the vision and voice of “the other.”

Lesson 2. Crimes of Indifference, Conspiracies of Silence - The Imperative for Moral Leadership.

In a word, the Armenian killings fields, the Holocaust of European Jewry, and the genocides from Cambodia to Rwanda, succeeded not only because of the culture of hate and machinery of death, but because of the crimes of indifference and the conspiracies of silence.

Indeed, we have been witness to an appalling indifference in our day to the unthinkable – ethnic cleansing – and the unspeakable – genocide; and worst of all to the preventable genocide in Rwanda. No one can say that we did not know.

It is our responsibility, then, to break down the walls of indifference, to shatter the conspiracies of silence wherever they may be. For as Elie Wiesel reminded us last year in the Stockholm Forum on the Holocaust - “neutrality always means coming down on the side of the victimizer – never on the side of the victim;” and as Professor Yehuda Bauer also reminded us in last year’s Stockholm Forum of his three commandments: “Never be a perpetrator. Never allow there to be victims. And never, never allow yourself to be a bystander – to be indifferent.”

In a word, and we must adhere to this ourselves, if we are to convey this to others: neutrality in the face of evil – whether of individuals or states – is acquiescence in, if not complicity with, evil itself. It is not only abandonment of the victim; it is encouraging the victimizer. As Albert Camus put it: “If you keep on excusing, you eventually give your blessing to the slave camp, to cowardly force, to organizing executions, to the cynicism of great political masters; you eventually had over your brothers.”

And that is why I want to salute Prime Minister Persson: because he has shown us – and become a role model - of what it means to stand up and be counted, and not look around to see whoever else is standing before you make a judgment to do so; because in the times in which we live there are too few people prepared to stand up, let alone to be counted – too few people of moral courage, and too many of political expediency. As Edmund Burke put it, “the surest way to ensure that evil will triumph in the world is for enough good people to do nothing.”

Lesson 3. The Vulnerability of the Powerless, the Powerlessness of the Vulnerable, the Rights of Minorities.

The third lesson is that the ethnic cleansing and genocides of the twentieth century succeeded not only because of the vulnerability of the powerless, but because of the powerlessness of the vulnerable. A vulnerability of the powerless which is not unrelated to the powerlessness - and persecution – of the vulnerable on the grounds of their “identity” - or the nullification or exclusion of their rights on the basis of some prohibited form of discrimination, be it race, religion, ethnicity, national origin, or the like Indeed, it is not surprising, that the triage of Nazi racial hygiene -, the Sterilization laws, the Nuremberg laws, the Euthanasia laws - targeted those “whose lives were not worth living;” an it is not unrevealing as Professor Henry Friedlander reminds us in his recent work on “The Origins of Genocide,” that the first group targeted for killing were the Jewish disabled, the whole anchored in the science of death, the medicalization of ethnic cleansing, the sanitizing even of the vocabulary of discrimination and destruction.

And so it is our responsibility as political leaders, as NGOs, as experts, as citoyens du monde, to give voice to the voiceless as we seek to empower the powerless – be they the disabled, the poor, the gay and lesbian, the refugee, the targets of racism - whoever they may be; while we seek to combat if not eliminate disparities in access to economic and social rights so as to combat if not eliminate these root causes of prejudice and discrimination.

And if in confronting injustice, you ask: “Where are we to begin? Against what injustice? On behalf of what cause, on behalf of what victim? How does one rank human suffering?” I want to suggest to you that the problem is not which cause of human rights we are serving, but whether we are serving the cause of human rights at all; not which victim we are defending, but whether we are indifferent to the plight of the victim, whoever he or she may be; not whether a claim is being asserted by a particular minority, but why must that minority always stand alone.

Why is it always “their” problem, and not “our” responsibility?
For if I have learned anything from my work with human rights monitors and political prisoners, it is this: We are each wherever we are, the guarantors of each other’s destiny; and it made no difference whether I was with political prisoners in Moscow, or dissidents in Syria, or Ethiopian Jews in Ethiopia, or blacks in South Africa, or Aboriginal peoples, or victims of discrimination, in Canada. Everywhere the code words were the same.

Lesson 4. The "Trahison des clercs” – The Treason of the Intellectuals.

Again, Nazism almost succeeded not only because of the “bureaucratization of genocide,” as Robert Lifton put it, but because of the trahison des clercs – “the treason of the intellectuals” - as Julien Benda put it. Indeed, it is this trahison des clercs, this complicity of the elites - physicians, church leaders, judges, lawyers, engineers, architects, educators and the like – that nurtured the killing fields of the Nazis.

Indeed, one only has to read Gerhard Mueller’s book on “Hitler’s Justice” to appreciate the complicity of lawyers and judges in the Third Reich. One only has to read Robert Proctor’s work to see the role that physicians played as gatekeepers and executioners at the death camps.

One only has to look, as Robert jan van Pelt put it, at the minute involvement of engineers and architects in the construction of the death camps. Holocaust crimes, then, were also the crimes of the Nuremberg elites. As Elie Wiesel put it, “Cold blooded murder and culture did not exclude each other. If the Holocaust proved anything it is that a person can both love poems and kill children.”

And so it is our responsibility to speak truth to power, and to hold power accountable to truth; and those of us who have been entrusted with the education and training of the future elites, should ensure that Elie Wiesel is studied in schools of Law and not just in classes of Literature; that the double entendre of Nuremberg – the Nuremberg of jackboots as well as the Nuremberg of Judgements – is part of our learning as it is part of our legacy; that Mueller’s “Hitler’s Justice” underpins our perspective as it informs our principles – on justice and injustice.

In a word, the antidote to the trahison des clercs in our time is for the writer, the artist, the journalist, the physician, the lawyer, the engineer, the architect, the educator – to also stand up and be counted.

Lesson 5. Nuremberg, Racism and the Holocaust

The enduring question – “Why the Holocaust?” – “Why Nazi Genocide?”– remains. It underlay the Stockholm International Forum on the Holocaust last year, as it does at every International Conference on the Holocaust. I don’t purport to have an answer to the “why” – but offer the following thought grounded in part in the work of Gordon Allport on racism, and that of Christopher Browning and Daniel Goldhagen, on Nazism.

In a word, that Nazism almost succeeded not only because of the ideology of hate and the industry of death, not only because of the crimes of indifference and conspiracies of silence, not only because of the trahison des clercs and the complicity of the elites, but because of the internalized legacy of racism – because of an ingrained culture of racism and anti-semitism. Indeed, it is this culture of racism - this “eliminationist anti-semitism” as it has been called - anchored in the theory and practice of Nazi racial hygiene that transferred “ordinary Germans” into “Hitler’s willing executioners;” and if the critique be made – as it is – that if this be true of Germans, is it not true of others – why single out the Germans? The answer must be that racism was not only German but European; that ordinary men became willing executioners in the Baltics and Balkans, in Vichy France and Quisling’s Norway – that even Norway enacted Nuremberg race laws and deported its Jewish population to Auschwitz – and that the ugly legacy of racism is still with us.
And so what must be realized – and as history has taught us only too well – that while it may begin with Jews, it doesn’t end with Jews; indeed, that while it may begin with Blacks, or Asians, or Muslims, or Ukrainians, or Armenians, or Roma – as victims of the violations of human rights – it doesn’t end with them. The struggle against racism of any kind, must therefore, not be seen simply as a Jewish issue, or an Asian issue, or a Black or Muslim issue, or an ethnic issue of one racialized group or another, but as a profound Justice issue of the first import.

The familiar words of the German protestant theologian, Martin Niemöller, bear not only recall today, but acting upon them, beyond today.

“They first came for the Catholics, but I wasn’t a Catholic so I did nothing. Then they came for the Communists, but I wasn’t a Communist so I did nothing. Then they came for the Trade unionists, but I wasn’t a Trade Unionist, so I did nothing.

Then they came for the Jews, but I wasn’t a Jew so I did nothing. Then they came for me and there was nobody left.”

Lesson 6: Combatting Xenophobia: the Refugee and Asylum-Seeker as l’étranger and worse

If the right to leave was a dominant organizing theme of the eighties, the right to asylum has become the counterpart claim in the nineties and in the new millennium. Regrettably, however, opening up the gates of emigration has been met by the closing of the gates to asylum - a phenomena exacerbated by the dynamics of globalization and its “discontents.”

In a word, the high level of prosperity in North America and Western Europe – coupled with the growing incident of armed-conflict, dislocation of peoples, and related poverty and misery – has resulted in an increased movement of populations from poorer to richer areas, including attracting asylum seekers and refugees in large numbers. One would have hoped, as Mary Robinson put it, “that this challenge would have been met with a generosity of spirit and respect for the inherent dignity and worth of every human being.” The opposite, however, appears to be true Indeed, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees has alerted us to the alarming increase in racist attacks on asylum-seekers and refugees, and which has subjected them to a “continuum of intolerance” or “triple-jeopardy” victimization as follows: first, it is intolerance, discrimination, and violence which forces the refugees to leave their countries of origin to begin with; second, there is a pattern of intolerance, discrimination, and abuse which they confront in their flight to freedom; and third, when they reach the destination where they seek asylum and refugee status, they are often met by indifference and suspicion at best, or discrimination and even physical violence at worst.

Indeed, the very term “asylum-seeker” has even come to denote a term of abuse. Asylum-seekers may find themselves triply stigmatized, stereotyped, and scapegoated – as aliens; as “cheaters,” if not “criminals,” as Mary Robinson has put it, for having entered “fortress Europe;” and as victims of trafficking. Indeed, there is a cruel irony here, in the disturbing tendency to criminalize asylum-seekers, and to do so by linking their quest for asylum to that of smugglers and traffickers – a dangerous identification of the victims of trafficking, with the victimizers – with the traffickers themselves. For the hundreds of thousands who leave –or are compelled to leave – their homes in quest of a better life, if not asylum elsewhere, are particularly vulnerable to the very traffickers with whom they are cruelly and misleadingly associated.

Indeed, it is those most vulnerable - and those most desperately in need of asylum – women and children – who may be victimized by those who force them to work in conditions that effectively amount to forced labour or slavery. Mary Robinson has summed up this human and juridical dilemma of the transformation of the prospective asylum-seeker to the victim of trafficking as follows:

“The problem of trafficking is worldwide and growing. It is estimated that between three hundred thousand and six hundred thousand women are smuggled each year into the European Union…Human trafficking is a violation in itself but it can include violations of a whole range of human rights. Poverty, discrimination, and social exclusion are the backdrop for trafficking; it is a phenomenon which destroys thousands of lives…”

Lesson 7: The Struggle Against Impunity: Towards a Culture of Accountability

It is somewhat anomalous – and disconcerting - that while there are Nuremberg principles to bring war criminals to justice for the perpetration of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, there is no Nuremberg principle for the combating of racist hate crimes which took us down the road to Nuremberg crimes to begin with. As my colleague David Matas determined in his just published work “Bloody Words:”
“Off all of the lessons to be learned from the Holocaust there is none more important than the need to ban hate speech, because the banning of hate speech, if effective, prevents atrocities from occurring. Punishing mass murderers, protecting refugees, protesting massive violations, all come too late for many victims. Effective banning of hate speech means that there will be no victims.”

Accordingly, the struggle against impunity requires that we not only punish international atrocities after the fact - that we bring war criminals to justice – but that we seek to prevent atrocities to begin with; and more, that we seek a culture of accountability to combat racism, xenophobia, anti-semitism and all forms of intolerance, rather than acquiesce in a culture of impunity that licenses such intolerance.

Accordingly, as the European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance put it, we must ensure that criminal prosecution of offences of a racist or xenophobic nature is given a highpriority and is actively and consistently undertaken”; and in lesson 8 below on the use of legal remedies to combat intolerance I will seek to identify the panoply of legal remedies to combat racism, xenophobia, anti-semitism and intolerance, while addressing also the “free speech” arguments regarding the proscription of hate speech in particular.

Regrettably, the struggle against impunity has not only failed to sufficiently factor in the importance of combating racism to begin with – of legislating a culture of prevention – but it has failed even in the bringing of war criminals to justice after the fact – the ultimate in a culture of impunity. Indeed, the presence of war criminals amongst us – for fifty years and more after Nuremberg – is a moral and juridical obscenity, an affront to conscience, a betrayal of everything people fought for and died for. Indeed, the word “war criminal” – be it in the Second World War or Rwanda – is itself somewhat of a misnomer; for we are not talking about the killing of combatants in the course of the prosecution of a war, but the murder of innocents in the course of the persecution of a race.

Fifty years after Nuremberg, the lessons of the past not only remain unlearned, but the tragedy is being repeated. Instead of diminishing over time, the “Never Again” assaults continue – not against Jews, but against Cambodians, Bosnians, Hutus, Tutsis, Sudanese – and the list goes on. Regrettably, this international criminality has been accompanied by a culture of impunity, which has only encouraged others to commit greater violations. If human security is to be safeguarded, this culture of impunity must be replaced by a culture of accountability. Indeed, establishing accountability is not only a moral and juridical imperative, but it is also a practical imperative, if not a self-interested one. For, with globalization and porous borders, crimes against humanity are crimes without borders. For these massive atrocities create population displacements, assault innocents, and jeopardize regional and international stability.

We can no longer afford to wait for disaster before acting. Accountability means bringing human rights violators to justice, deterring future violations, protecting potential victims, and safeguarding international peace and security. The adoption of the Statute of the International Criminal Court in 1998 – and the establishment of International Criminal Tribunals for former Yugoslavia and Rwanda – were a watershed in the fight against impunity – and a break in the culture of impunity.

Accordingly, the struggle against impunity requires that:

- We recognize that states – as part of a culture of prevention – sanction hate crimes to begin with; 

- We recognize that states have an obligation to prosecute or extradite the perpetrators of the most serious international crimes; 

- We invoke the full panoply of remedies at our disposal -internationally and nationally – to bring those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity to justice; 

- We lead a campaign for the necessary ratifications to bring the International Criminal Court into being; 

- We continue to take the lead in “engendering justice”, at the International Criminal Court, the International Tribunals for Rwanda and Former Yugoslavia, and at the national level; and, 

- We develop mechanisms for the protection of civilians in armed conflict, refugee camp security and the integration of human rights into peacekeeping missions to protect against intolerance by peacekeepers themselves.

Above all, what is needed is the political will to speak out against intolerance - at the local level, at the regional level, at the national level and at the international level, and to anchor our advocacy in the fulcrum of international human rights norms. For social history describes the expansion of the sense of community, from family to tribe, from tribe to village, from village to city, from city to nation. The question which will determine whether this progression will result in a culture of tolerance and respect for diversity - or a culture of hate and the teaching of contempt - is whether these loyalties built around the tribe and the nation-state can be transferred upwards and linked to the level of international human rights principles – and the prohibition of discrimination as a foundational principle of international customary and treaty law.

Lesson 8 Combatting Intolerance: The Role of Law and Legal Remedy

In the words of the European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI):
“The law is a powerful weapon for combating racism, xenophobia, anti-semitism and intolerance. Adequate legal protection offers a remedy to individuals, and affirms the relevant authorities firm opposition to racism in all of its forms.

Moreover, the fact that Parliaments have declared racism and intolerance to be unacceptable in this society has an important educational impact on people.”
Accordingly, if law is a “powerful weapon” in combatting intolerance, the question becomes: what legal regime – or more particularly, what typology of legal remedies – can we suggest to combat racism, xenophobia, anti-semitism and other forms of related intolerance – of the kind we saw in the film. More particularly, what are some of the legal remedies – the “best practices” – that can be distilled from an appreciation of the best of the international and domestic legal remedies?

May I identify some of these remedies as follows, using the Canadian legal regime and experience to combat racism as a case study for several reasons: first, Canada has developed the most comprehensive legal regime in the world – having regard to criminal, constitutional, international, human rights, administrative, procedural, and civil remedies – to combat racism; second – and in part due to this comprehensive legal regime to combat racism – Canada has emerged as a centre for hate propaganda litigation in general, and Holocaust denial litigation in particular; third, Canada has, the most comprehensive constitutional protection of equality rights anywhere - including the prohibition of discrimination on some 12 specific prohibited grounds of discrimination and “analogous” grounds, resulting thereby in the most developed equality rights jurisprudence anywhere; fourth, Canada has enacted, at both the federal and provincial level, the most comprehensive human rights anti-discrimination legislation – such as the Canadian Human Rights Act at the Federal level – and where the Quebec Charter of Rights and Freedoms is a model of both substantive and remedial provisions; and finally, the Canadian Supreme Court in its hate propaganda jurisprudence has generated one of the most compelling sets of legal precedents and principles respecting this genre of anti-racism litigation and the principle of freedom of expression in the world today, and which has included a comprehensive appreciation of international and comparative law norms and experiences.

The typology of legal remedies drawn from this repository of experience and expertise is as follows:
i) The use of the Criminal Law remedy, including the criminalization of hate speech, to prohibit, inter alia, the willful promotion of hatred and contempt against identifiable groups (ie, groups identifiable on account of their colour, race, religion or ethnic origin) in a public place - the kind of anti-hate legislation whose constitutionality has not only been upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada, as set forth earlier, but which has been enacted pursuant to, and in implementation of, the International Covenant on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination; in effect, the Criminal Code of Canada prohibits three classes of hate propaganda offenses:

- Advocating or promoting genocide against an “identifiable group,” that is, any section of the public distinguished by colour, race, religion or ethnic origin (section 318);
- Inciting hatred against an “identifiable group” by communicating in a public place statements which are likely to lead to a breach of the peace (subsection 319(1)); and,
- Communicating statements, other than in private conversation, to wilfully promote hatred against an “identifiable group”
(subsection 319(2)).

ii) The enactment of hate crimes where hate or bias motivation is factored as an aggravating circumstance in the sentencing process; in other words, if there is evidence that an assault, damage to property, uttering of threats, harassment, torture, or any other criminal offense was motivated by hate, bias, or prejudice, it is an aggravating factor for purposes of sentencing (i.e., it should result in a more severe sanction)

iii) Criminal Law Enforcement remedies as where provision is made for the seizure and forfeiture of hate propaganda kept on premises for distribution or sale;

iv) The International Law remedy, where International Treaty and Customary Law – and general principles of law recognized by the community of nations – can be invoked and applied to sanction racism and discrimination. In the words of the Supreme Court of Canada in the Keegstra case: “No aspect of international human rights has been given attention greater than that focussed upon discrimination…This high concern regarding discrimination has led to the presence in two international human rights documents of articles forbidding the dissemination of hate propaganda material.”

v) The domestication of international human rights norms, both in the enactment of domestic law pursuant to international treaties such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination, and in the invocation of international human rights law for the effective interpretation and application of domestic legislation;

vi) The constitutionalization of equality rights - as set forth, for example, in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms- and as recommended by the European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance - affirming the right of every person to equality before the law and under the law, and the right of every person to equal treatment and equal protection of the law.

vii). The constitutionalization of the remedial principles of affirmative action and employment equity, again as set forth by example in Canadian law.

viii) The enactment of Anti-Discrimination Human Rights legal regimes, such as the Canadian Human Rights Act, to protect individuals and minority groups from discrimination in employment, the provision of accommodation, facilities and services, the rental and purchase of property, and the like, on any of thirteen specifically prohibited grounds of discrimination.

In particular, the Canadian Human Rights Act contains two provisions which deal with hate propaganda and which have been invoked and applied in the matter of hate on the Internet. Section 13 makes it a discriminatory practice to repreatedly communicate by telephone any matter that is likely to expose a person to hatred or contempt because they are identifiable on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination. Section 12 makes it a discriminatory practice to publish or display a notice, sign, symbol, emblem or other representation that expresses or incites discrimination.

ix) The use of administrative/regulatory statutory law remedies - and related administrative tribunals – to proscribe the use of the mails for the dissemination of hate propaganda, as in the Canada Post Corporation Act, including the provision for interim prohibitory orders; and the prohibition in the Canadian Customs Tariff Act of the importation of publications that constitute hate propaganda under the Criminal Code;

x) The preservation and enhancement of our multicultural societies as a normative principle and juridical norm, as set forth, for example, in Section 27 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms;

xi) Broadcasting legislation and policy that excludes the promotion of hatred or contempt against an identifiable group from the ambit of protected speech as, for example, in the regulations of the Canadian Radio and Television Commission. These prohibit radio, television and specialty service broadcast license holders from broadcasting “any abusive comment or representation that…tends or is likely to expose an individual or group or class of individuals to hatred or contempt on the basis of…[again, a list of specific prohibited grounds of discrimination]”;

xii) Group Libel civil legislation which make it an offense to promote, through conduct
or communications, “hatred or contempt of a person, or class of persons, or to publish a libel likely to expose persons to hatred, contempt or ridicule and which authorize both injunctive relief and an actionable claim by the person or by a member of the class of persons against whom the conduct or communications were directed” (example from provincial legislation in Canada);

xiii) Civil remedies for discrimination as in the form of a tort of discrimination at common law, or a civil law of delict. In each case the complainant may take a case directly before the courts alleging damages incurred due to the tort or delict of discrimination;

xiv) Prohibition of racist associations. As racist hate speech becomes increasingly anchored in racist hate organizations – as seen in the film today - it may be appropriate to consider whether the racist hate group, and not just the racist hate speech, needs to be sanctioned. It should be noted that Article 4 of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination called for the proscription of all organizations attempting to justify or promote racial hatred. In the words of Article 4, “these organizations…have to be declared illegal and prohibited, participation in these organizations is, of itself, to be punished.”

xv) Preventing Registration – or deregistering - of racist associations. While states may not wish to proscribe racist organizations on considerations of both “chilling civil liberties,” and driving its members underground, they should exercise their incorporation or registration powers to prevent such racist organizations from being registered to begin with, or should bring about their dissolution once their racist operations become evident;

xvi) Restrictions on racist political parties. A number of liberal democracies have enacted measures to prevent racist political parties from participating in parliamentary elections; and, xvii) The Rights of Victims. It is important that victims of racism and hate-motivated activities appreciate that their fear, or moral outrage, can find expression in concrete legal remedy – that there are more options than doing nothing or just calling the police.

Indeed, the centrality of the victim to legal remedy is anchored in the fact that avenues of legal recourse to redress racist hate propaganda and hate-motivated crime are themselves triggered by victims who file complaints with government authorities or commence private legal proceedings on their own.

It should also be noted that the Criminal Code in Canada was recently amended to provide for “Victim Impact Statements” – that victims can read their impact statement aloud in court at the time of sentencing, so as to convey to the Court the impact of the accused’s hate-motivated crime upon them and their broader community.

Freedom of Expression and Freedom from Expression

But, you may ask, what about free speech? Are these legal remedies not violative of freedom of expression? In this sense, the dynamic and dialectical encounter between the rise in racist hate speech on the one hand - and the existence of comprehensive legal regimes in liberal democracies on the other – such as Canada – emerge as a compelling case-study of both “best remedies” and “best practices.”

Moreover, this encounter – and the relevant case-study - is not only a legal one, but a philosophical one. For what is at issue is not only the “best remedies” or “best practices” example, the efficacy or validity of legal remedy - but the balancing of two fundamental normative principles: on the one hand, freedom of expression as the lifeblood of democracy and of the autonomy of the individual; and, on the other hand, the right of vulnerable minorities to protection against discriminatory expression and its related humiliation, degradation and injury.

What is at stake in these matters is the litigation of the values of a nation. Accordingly, one cannot say that those who support anti-hate legislation are not really civil libertarians, or are against free speech. Rather, there are good civil libertarians on both sides of the issue. In a word, one can adhere to the notion of free speech as the lifeblood of democracy and still support anti-hate legislation.

It should be noted, in particular, that each and every one of the above typology of legal remedies has been subjected to constitutional challenge - for example in Canada – and, were upheld in a series of “free speech” decisions by the Canadian Supreme Court. I say “free speech” decisions because the Supreme Court, in upholding the constitutionality of these remedies, emphasized that freedom of expression was “the lifeblood of democracy” – that it was at the core of the search for truth, the autonomy of the individual, and the maintenance of democratic freedom; but the court also held that racist hate propaganda was an assault upon each of these underlying values of free speech, let alone an assault on the underlying values of a free and democratic society.

And more: that while Freedom of Expression is indeed a fundamental right, it is not an absolute right, and may be subject, said the Court, to “reasonable limitations prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society,” as exemplified by laws respecting perjury, pornography, defamation or false advertising; that freedom of speech cannot be read apart from - but must be seen in the context of - the right of minorities to protection against racial discrimination and group-vilifying speech; that freedom of speech is not only a libertarian issue but also an egalitarian one; that it must not be seen apart from - but pursuant to - international human rights law and jurisprudence respecting the exclusion of racist hate speech from the ambit of protected speech.

In summary, racist hate speech may be said to be composed of a number of characteristics whose composite is itself representative, if not determinative, of a genre of expression that is beyond the ambit of protected speech. These characteristics, taken together, provide a set of indices warranting the exclusion from the ambit of protected speech of such a genre of hate expression; or, if such hate speech is to be considered prima facie to be protected speech, then anti-hate legislation designed to combat it should be regarded, as the Supreme Court of Canada put it, as a reasonable limit prescribed by the law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.

These indices are:

a) Where the genre of expression involves not only the communication of hatred – “one of the most extreme emotions known to humankind” in the words of Justice Cory of the Supreme Court of Canada - but it amounts to the wilful promotion of such hatred against an identifiable group, an incipiently malevolent and violent act constituting an assault on the inherent dignity of the human person;

b) Where it involves not only an assault on the inherent dignity and worth of the human person, but on the equal dignity and worth of all human beings in society. For the systematic, public promotion of hatred against an identifiable group has the effect of reducing the standing and respect of that group and its members in society as a whole, while resulting in the self-abasement of each;

c) Where such hate-mongering not only does not preserve, let alone enhance, a multicultural society such as Canada, but it is destructive of it. In the words again of Justice Cory, “what a strange and perverse contradiction it would be if the Charter of Rights was to be used and interpreted so as to strike down a law aimed at preserving our multicultural heritage”;

d) Where the constitutionalization of the wilful promotion of hatred would not only constitute a standing breach of a country’s international obligations under treaties to which it is a party, but a standing breach of its obligation to implement domestic legislation to prohibit such expression. Again, to paraphrase Justice Cory, “what a strange and perverse contradiction it would be if freedom of expression was to be used and interpreted so as to undermine Canada’s conformity with international human rights law.”

e) Where such hate-mongering is not only destructive of the values and principles of a free and democratic society – and opposite to the legislative experience of other free and democratic societies – but constitutes a standing assault on the values and interests – and the purposive rationale – underlying protected speech;

f) Where the hate-mongering not only constitutes an assault on the very values and interests underlying freedom of expression, but it destructive of the entitlement of the target group to protection from group defamation;

g) Where the hate-mongering not only lays the basis for discrimination against, and debasement of, members of the target group, but engenders, if not encourages, racial and religious discord, while causing injury to the community as a whole;

h) Where such hate-mongering not only does not partake in the conveyance of ideas or meaning of any kind, but is utterly without any redeeming value whatever. In a word, the wilful promotion of hatred is not only assaultive of a free and democratic society, but is assaultive of its core principle – free speech. To allow racist hate speech to be protected speech is to give democracy – and free speech – a bad name.

Lesson 9 A Special Problem: Hate on the Internet

We have come to learn that the Internet – which can transport the best in - information, education, scholarship, entertainment, commerce and even act as a antidote to racism – can also transport the worst. Indeed, what we are witnessing is a veritable explosion of Hate on the Internet, particularly, in the startling increase in the number of young people using it and being targeted by it. The danger in the “explosion” of hate on the Internet is not simply to be found in the proliferation of hate sites - from one hate site in 1995, to over 2,500 today according to some estimates (Simon Wiesenthal Centre) – but in the use and abuse of the Internet as follows:

- Hate groups have not only emerged from the dark shadows of the past, to post their racist hate messages online - while hiding behind their anonymity - but they now disseminate their hate messages for a potential audience of thousands, if not millions. Indeed, many hate sites are barely a click away, making it easier for hate groups to prey on unsuspecting computer users;

- The Internet, then, is an inexpensive yet highly effective way for the compendium of hate groups to not only propagate their hate but even use the medium as a recruitment, if not also fundraising, instrument. As one Canadian white supremacist with an Internet homepage said, “We have big plans for the Internet…it’s uncontrollable, it’s beautifully uncensored”;

- Many hate sites are being specifically organized to target children through seemingly harmless “kids pages” replete with colour graphics, crossword puzzles and games – but where further inquiry reveals the games to be laced with racist and anti-semitic themes; 

- While many hate sites may be blatantly racist or bigoted in their approach, others disguise themselves as legitimate sources of information e.g., a site that appears to be an examination of the life of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, turns out to be a racist hate site; All this raises the question, “What is to be done about cyber-hate?” Most people – when appreciating the scope of the problem – respond by saying “There ought to be a legal remedy.”

Yet, as technology races, the law lags, and once again, the scientists appear to be beating the lawyers. Accordingly, may I suggest, however briefly, a number of principles and perspectives which will be explored more fully in the seminar workshop on this title, but which may offer a framework of inquiry on this matter:

- Foundational Principle 1: A person who commits an offence on the Internet is as responsible as a person who commits them using pen and paper. The existing legal framework regarding hate speech - as set forth in Lesson 8 above – is equally applicable to communications made via the Internet as to other means of communication. In a word, behaviour that is illegal offline is illegal online;

- Foundational Principle 2: United States and the First Amendment Doctrine.
Admittedly, under the First Amendment Doctrine of the U.S., all speech is protected speech, so that what is protected offline will also be protected online. Indeed, some U.S. attempts at regulating cyber-hate - as with the Communications Decency Act – were struck down when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that such legislation was overly-broad. But even in the U.S. – and under the First Amendment Doctrine – certain legal remedies are still available offline, and therefore online as follows:

- Hate speech, which amounts to threats and intimidation, is not protected speech under the First Amendment. Accordingly, a threatening private message sent over the Internet to a victim, or a public message displayed on a website disclosing an intent to commit acts of racially-motivated violence, are prosecutable under the law;

- Similarly, harassing speech is not constitutionally protected speech, as the speech in question usually amounts to impermissible conduct and not just speech;

- Incitement to violence is yet another unprotected activity even under the American First Amendment; and,

- Libellous speech on the Internet directed toward a particular person or entity is actionable under the law just as libellous remarks uttered in any public forum. 

- Foundational Principle 3: Group Libel on the Internet. In most jurisdictions, and unlike the situation in the U.S., the wilful promotion of hatred or contempt against an identifiable group on the Internet is, as a matter of principle, as prohibited online as it would be offline; and the same principles respecting the prohibition of hate speech offline –as set forth earlier - apply to the prohibition of hate speech online.

- Foundational Principle 4: Hate without Borders: Toward the Internationalization of Legal Remedy. Admittedly, the evolutionary and trans-national character of the Internet technology appears to pre-empt national regulation by states. Nevertheless, the internationalisation of legal remedy can provide an antidote to the borderless technology of cyber-hate, as follows:

- It must be appreciated that the borderless technology is still subject to the normative requirements of the International Convention of the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination. Article 4 of the Convention requires that state parties shall criminalize the wilful

promotion of hatred or contempt against identifiable groups without reference as to whether this “group libel” is committed offline or online. Indeed, the German Budestag in June 1997 passed the first comprehensive, national Internet law, pursuant to its undertakings as a state party to the Convention;

- Bilateral and multilateral treaties on mutual legal assistance provide avenues for law enforcement agents to pursue illegal behaviour on the Internet, either by facilitating the gathering of evidence, or by obtaining assistance in identifying the source of material at the international level;and,

- Extradition treaties complement international cooperative efforts by permitting the extradition between states.

- Foundational Principle 5: Hate without Borders: Towards the Domestication of Trans-National Criminal Offences. For example, domestic laws generally do not apply beyond national borders, and enforcement of laws are generally restricted to that which takes place within a national border. Nevertheless, it is possible to establish that the
trans-national offence has been committed within the domestic arena so as to assume jurisdiction over it. For example, the Supreme Court of Canada, has stated, that all that is necessary to make an offence subject to the jurisdiction of Canadian courts is that a significant portion of the activities constituting that offence have taken place in Canada –i.e., the presence of a “real and substantial” link.

- Foundational Principle 6: Codes of Conduct. States should establish working groups consisting of NGOs, Internet Service Providers, Connectivity providers, Associations of Internet Service Providers, and relevant government officials:

- To develop an appropriate Code of Conduct for the Internet Industry; to monitor hate propaganda and other forms of intolerance by state nationals on the Internet; to issue yearly reports on the sources of hate propaganda and related measures to prevent it; 
- For example, the Code of Conduct of the Canadian Association of Internet Service Providers (CAIP) maintains that its members will not knowingly host illegal content, and that they will make reasonable efforts to investigate legitimate complaints about illegal content or network abuse, and will take “appropriate action” against those who violate the Code.

The Code of Practice of the Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA) of the United Kingdom, which was originally voluntary but became mandatory for members in 1997, states that members “shall use their reasonable endeavours to ensure services and promotional material do not contain material inciting violence, sadism, cruelty or racial hatred.”

In 1997, the European Internet Service Providers Association (EuroISPA) was established with seven member associations, representing over 400 ISPs across the European Union. Its stated goals are to “promote self-regulation and to influence the regulatory process on behalf of the Internet industry”;

- Foundational Principle 7: Towards a human rights culture on the Internet.

States should provide financial help to human rights NGOs so as to support the establishment of a human rights culture online - combatting hate on the internet, including:

- Developing Hate Watch websites that monitor and track hate on the Internet;

- Compiling and maintaining an up-to-date list of hate sites on the Internet which Institutions, ISPs, and connectivity providers should be encouraged to block;

- Mobilizing communities to lobby ISPs and access service providers to drop websites that violate domestic and international law;

- Developing educational programs to help governments understand the impact of hate on the Internet and the related need for appropriate international, national and regional regulation of hate on the Internet; and,

- Providing detailed information on human rights, anti-semitism, and racism as part of public education and awareness sites.

- Foundational Principle 8: The Voluntary use of Filtering Software products.

Filtering devices (e.g. “Net Nanny”) or blocking devices have been developed, to be placed on computers in the home, school or libraries so as to prevent children, in particular, from accessing sites containing illegal or offensive content. The limitation of filtering software, however, is that it is “dumb,” and may unduly restrict legitimate information.

- Foundational Principle 9: Training for Law-Enforcement of Internet Crime.

These programs increase the knowledge of law enforcement officials about how crime is committed via the Internet, and how to gather and preserve evidence related to such crimes. Indeed, specialized policing units re Hate Crime on the Internet, have been developed. These law enforcement officials have particular expertise on Internet issues, and/or on subject matter issues, such as hate propaganda. Law enforcement personnel often work cooperatively with other jurisdictions – given the trans-national nature of hate on the Internet – and also work cooperatively with the Internet industry and associations of Internet providers.

In a word, it is recommended that governments explore all the remedies that are available to combat hate on the Internet – including enforcing international and domestic law where applicable; enacting new laws or amending existing laws where required; advancing selfregulation of the Internet through relevant codes of conduct and the like; and supporting “more speech” and anti-racist education on the Internet, towards developing a culture of human rights online.

In particular, the myth that laws to prevent hate propaganda do not apply on the Internet must itself be challenged. As the European Commission on Racism and Intolerance has stated:

“The myth of an Internet without faith or law should be dismissed at the outset. This myth of a legal vacuum, which is supported by certain alarmist politicians, amplified by the press and exacerbated by unconsidered declarations of independence by “surfers” eager for absolute freedom, does not stand up to examination. Like any other means of communication, the Internet does not escape the law. As a general rule, the laws governing the right of communication are drafted in a technically neutral manner, which takes into account any dissemination of information irrespective of the medium; consequently, they are fully applicable to messages distributed on the Internet…the problem therefore lies not so much in the absence of adequate material rules as in obstacles to their application in the form of the characteristics peculiar to the networks of networks, namely its polycentric structure, its ubiquity and the cover of anonymity…[The] minimum standard [for preventing hate on the Net], moreover, is imposed by the United Nations Convention on the Elimination Of All Forms Of Racial Hatred, Article 4 of which requires the adoption, inter alia, of a provision penalizing the propagation of racial hatred outside a strictly private circle. These criminal provisions, which are drafted in general terms, are applicable, inter alia, to hateful expressions disseminated via the Internet.”

Lesson 10 The Plight of Indigenous Peoples

If the Genocide Convention is reminder and warning of “Never Again” – and the Universal Declaration is expression and example of the human rights revolution – then the plight of indigenous peoples is a historic and continuing assault on our human rights sensibilities – a case that has yet to be significantly touched by the human rights revolution. Indeed, year after year, the Canadian Human Rights Commission, in its annual report, has singled out the plight of the Aboriginal Peoples as the single most important human rights issue confronting Canada today; and year after year it has had to report that the condition of Aboriginal Peoples is a “national disgrace” – a situation paralleled elsewhere in the Western hemisphere and the international community as a whole.

Accordingly, what is needed here is a new cultural sensibility, a respect for difference, a politics and policy of inclusion. What is required is a recognition of the Aboriginal people’s right to self-government and self-determination; a recognition of their unique status by reason of their historic presence as First nations; a generous rather than a grudging or recriminatory respect for their Aboriginal Treaty Rights and Land Rights; a radical improvement of economic and social conditions on reserves; a reform of the justice system to accommodate the distinctiveness and sensibility of Aboriginal cultures; and the adoption of the Draft U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People together with the implementation of the Program for the Permanent Indigenous Forums. As Dr. Ted Moses, Ambassador of the Cree to the United Nations, put it in his 1993 Address to the World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna, “Mr. President, the indigenous peoples of North America have asked me to convey to this World Conference, a most fair, modest, and reasonable request:

The indigenous peoples ask to be accorded the same rights which the United Nations accords to the other peoples of the World. We ask for no more and no less than this. We ask simply that the United Nations respect its own instruments, its own standards, and its own principles. We ask that it apply these standards universally and indivisibly, that it accord all peoples the same universally and indivisibly, that it accord all peoples the same universally recognized rights, that it act without prejudice, and without discrimination based on race, religion, or colour.”

“All rights belong to all peoples” he concluded, presaging the celebrated indigenous protest against the failure of the World Conference – Canada included – to refer to the World’s indigenous peoples as peoples with an “s”.

Admittedly, some progress was made in Vienna. The request for the establishment of a Permanent Forum in the United Nations for Indigenous People was reflected in the Vienna Declaration. The request to support approval of the draft U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was adopted; and the request for a U.N. decade was accepted and eventually proclaimed by the General Assembly.

But eight years later that Forum has yet to be implemented; the Draft Declaration – though approved by the Working Group on Indigenous Population and by the Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities – has not yet been adopted by the U.N. Commission on Human Rights; and the U.N. Decade continues to limp along.

Lesson 11 Towards a Strategy of Cross-Commitment.

This brings me to the last part of my remarks, and to the point, where one must move from lessons of principle and moral imperative –as I have tried to share with you - to modes of advocacy and action. Accordingly, what follows is a proposed advocacy strategy for crosscommitment based on the four themes underlying this Forum - law, education, community action and the media.

A) Law and Legal Remedy: This matter has been dealt with under lessons 8 and 9 above on both a domestic and international level; and I have sought to share with you a comprehensive legal strategy to combat intolerance, both as a matter of principle and as a matter of policy, and both online as well as offline.

It should be appreciated, however, that while no comprehensive strategy for combating intolerance can exist without law and legal remedy, law and legal remedy alone will clearly not suffice. Equally, however, it should also be appreciated that law and legal remedy are not just a matter of a technical body of rules, but they articulate values that men and women can seek to live by; they are not just an agency for enforcement, but are a constructive instrument for the reconfiguration of society as a whole - the relationship between individuals, groups and the state. As such, law and legal remedy have their own educational and symbolic value, and are intrinsic to each of the following components of a strategy for cross-commitment e.g., education, community action and the media.

B) Education: A strategy for a culture of prevention and the establishment of a culture of human rights.

There are four elements that underpin an educational strategy:

i. Holocaust education – Sweden is a case-study of how Holocaust education, can not only teach an entire society of the importance of Holocaust remembrance and reminder – of witness and warning - but how it can engage that whole society in “living history” - in the teaching, learning, and internalization of Holocaust sensibility – where the particularity of the Holocaust has universal resonance.

In particular, states should commit themselves to the constituent elements of the Declaration of the Stockholm International Forum on the Holocaust, which included, inter alia, the understanding that: “the Holocaust fundamentally challenged the foundations of civilization…[its] unprecedented character will always hold universal meaning…[its] magnitude…must be forever seared in our collective memory…together we must uphold the terrible truths of the Holocaust against those who deny it.

We must strengthen the moral commitment of our people and the political commitment of our governments, to ensure that future generations can understand the causes of the Holocaust and reflect upon its consequences.

We pledge to strengthen efforts to promote education, remembrance and research about the Holocaust…

We share a commitment to encourage the study of the Holocaust in all its dimensions…a commitment to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust and to honour those who stood against it…a commitment to throw light on the still obscured shadows of the Holocaust…a commitment to plant the seeds of a better future amidst the soil of a bitter past…a commitment…to remember the victims who perished, respect the survivors still with us, and reaffirm humanity’s common aspiration for mutual understanding and justice.”

ii. Anti-racist education. Since racism is the ultimate assault on human rights and human dignity, anti-racist education is the best expression and example for the promotion and protection of human rights and human dignity. Such anti-racist education may include:
• The teaching of “History without hatred”, as the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance put it, so as “to prevent history being misused to promote feelings of national antagonism and cultural and racial superiority”;
• The establishment of school curricula in such a way so as to enhance the appreciation of cultural diversity;
• Emphasis in the curriculum on the combating of racism, xenophobia, anti-semitism and intolerance as an integral part of the protection and promotion of human rights;
• The promoting of respect for all persons irrespective of their religious, cultural, or ethnic background and origin, and the development of curricula to reflect and give expression to this principle of cultural pluralism;
• Educational programs which not only allow groups vulnerable to racism and intolerance to participate equally in the educational system, but also to see themselves reflected in curricula;
• Educational institutions implementing an agreed upon policy on equal opportunities and anti-racism;
• Government organized public education and awareness campaigns to alert their respective societies to the dangers of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, anti-semitism and related intolerance;
• The review of curricula and textbooks – across all subjects – to ensure that these do not perpetuate stereotypes or prejudices, or convey hate or hostility, or cause racist, ethnic or anti-semitic animosity, with particular attention to the teaching of history without bias or hate; and,
• Governments should ensure - as the European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance recommended – “that adequate anti-racist training and awareness-raising programs are implemented for public officials such as the police and other law-enforcement officers, judges, prosecutors, personnel of the prison system and of the armed forces, customs and immigration officials, as well as teachers and health and social welfare services workers.”

iii. Multicultural education. What we must appreciate is that we are increasingly becoming, not only liberal democracies, but multicultural democracies. This is not only a part of the reality of globalization – of migration, of immigration, and the like – but the authentic appreciation of our heritage and history. It means that multiculturalism must not only be seen as a demographic reality or sociological phenomenon, but as a normative identification of who we are, and one that finds expression in our legislation and in our education.

iv. Human Rights education. Along with Holocaust education, anti-racist education, multicultural education, we need human rights education - beginning in primary school and extending into post-secondary education – and organized around the principles of the universality of human rights, the indivisibility of human rights, the internationalization of human rights, and anchored always in the cultural particularity of each society.

C) The Principle of Community Action.
In a word, what we need here in terms of anti-racism is a gestalt approach, a holistic principle which engages all the actors in our society - government, non-governmental organizations, inter-governmental organizations, civil society in its various configurations – and which finds expression on the local, regional, national and on the international level – a holistic approach built around partnership principles.

D) The Role of the Media
I am reminded here what Marshall McLuhan, the Canadian scholar, has said, “that the medium is the message.” And the message in the media is one of under-representation of minorities, of stereotyping, and of misrepresentation. What is needed is for the media themselves to be engaged in the very educational strategy that I mentioned above – Holocaust education, anti-racism education, multicultural education and human rights education - let alone community sensibility - so that the media becomes an antidote to the uninformed, the misinformed and the misleading, rather than a witting or unwitting agent of prejudice.

In brief, the media should be organized around an inclusive coverage of society using diverse sources of information; it should reflect the cultural, ethnic and religious pluralism of a multicultural society in a fair and balanced manner, while sensitizing us to the perspectives and sensibilities of targeted groups; it should alerting public opinion to the dangers of racism, xenophobia and intolerance, while deepening public understanding and awareness of all forms of diversity and difference.

Let me give you one of many examples of the media as agent rather than as antidote to intolerance - but in the interest of time, one example will have to suffice. At the first trial in Canada of a Holocaust denier - Ernst Zundel – a Holocaust denier from Sweden, Ditlieb Felderer, testified at the trial. The next day on the front page of the largest-circulation newspaper in Canada, the Toronto Star, was the following headline “Women dined and danced at Auschwitz, expert witness says.” There was no reference to the fact that the “expert witness” was himself a Holocaust denier, let alone a convicted felon. There was no reference to the fact that we were dealing with the worst example and expression of Holocaust denial itself. There was no appreciation for the false moral and media equivalencies, such as the references in the article to “the alleged crematoria,” the “alleged gas chambers,” and the like.

Similarly, the headline of January 12th, 1985 in The Globe and Mail read, “Lawyer challenges crematoria theory”. The Globe and Mail of February 6th, 1985 - the day after French Holocaust Denier Robert Faurisson testified – was headlined “No Gas Chambers in Nazi Germany, expert witness testifies.” Again, there was no reference to the fact that the “expert witness” was himself a Holocaust denier, and convicted felon.
The media, then, must internalise the notion of fairness and accuracy and sensibility in matters of racism, xenophobia, anti-semitism and other forms of related intolerance – lest it become an agent, rather than an antidote, to prejudice.

Conclusion: The Meaning of Raoul Wallenberg

May I close my remarks with reference to Raoul Wallenberg. For Raoul Wallenberg was not only a citizen of Sweden – and an honorary citizen of my own country, Canada - indeed the only honorary citizen of Canada – but he is in fact regarded as the Saint Just of the Nations, the Lost Hero of the Holocaust. A person who is credited with saving as many Jews during the Second World War as any single government. What Raoul Wallenberg demonstrated - and what is important for us to appreciate - is that it was possible to resist. It was possible to confront evil.

It was possible to prevail. Were that there were only a few more Raoul Wallenbergs.
We can best give expression to the inspiration of Raoul Wallenberg by appreciating, as Prime Minister Persson has told us, that each one of us has an indispensable role to play in the indivisible struggle for human rights and human dignity - and against racism, and hate, and xenophobia, and intolerance in our time. Each one can and does make a difference. For human rights begins with each one of us - in our homes, in our workplace, in our human relations, in our daily capacity for care and compassion, in our daily capacity to make life better for some victim of discrimination.

And if we ever get tired or fatigued – “burnt out,” to use the popular metaphor of the eighties - let us remember that one Swedish non-Jew, Raoul Wallenberg, saved more Jews, as I said, than almost any single government; that one person, Andre Sakharov, stood up against the whole Soviet system and prevailed; that one person, Nelson Mandela, emerged from 27 years in a South African prison to preside over the dismantling of apartheid, and to become President of South Africa; that one movement, the women’s movement - as I witnessed it in Vienna in 1993 - renewed, energized, and transformed the whole of the human rights movement itself; that minorities are not only targets of racism, but are ready and able to take their rightful place in society as long as we will give them the dignity and respect that they deserve.

This, then, must be our task. To speak on behalf of those who cannot be heard. To bear witness of behalf of those who cannot testify. To act on behalf of those who not only put their livelihood, but indeed their lives, on the line. And so may this Stockholm Forum be not only an act of remembrance of the “double entendre” of Nuremberg – of the Nuremberg of Jackboots and Hate and the Nuremberg of Judgements and Principles. May it not only be an act of remembrance for the victims of racism and hate and xenophobia and the killing fields of this century; but may it also be a remembrance to act - so that we are each, wherever we are, the guarantors of each other’s destiny. This is what the struggle for human rights and human dignity - and anti-racism and anti-hate - is all about.

Thank you.

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Opening Session

Plenary Sessions: Messages and Presentations

Workshops, Panels and Seminars

Closing Plenary Session and Declaration

Other Activities

For information about this production and the Stockholm International Forum Conference Series please go to or contact Information Rosenbad, SE-103 33 Stockholm, Sweden