What roles do hate speech and propaganda play in violent conflicts where genocide and crimes against humanity occur?

Do they direct violence? Do they influence people who are typically non-violent to commit acts of violence, or are they just one factor helping to create a permissive environment for violence?

What is the difference between certain forms of hate speech and propaganda and actual incitement to genocide? How does the law help clarify situations? What does it leave unaddressed?

These questions and many others were examined in a seminar hosted by the Museum in February 2009. The gathering assembled experts from many different fields who shared research, knowledge and insights on the role of hate speech in situations of genocide and related crimes against humanity.

View our Executive Summary, which outlines the key findings from the seminar.

Five case studies were explored:

  • Bosnia: 1992-1995 genocide
  • Rwanda: 1994 genocide
  • Guatemala: 1981-1983; over 200,000, mainly Mayan people were killed, largely by the Guatemalan military, 1.5 million displaced.
  • Kenya: ethnic and political violence following December 2007 elections
  • Incitement and International Criminal Law


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