In an exclusive interview with the UN News Service, UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression Irene Khan explains the the limits on propaganda under international law and the dangers of disinformation during armed conflict.

Interviewer: Are there legal grounds for punishing propagandists, those who call for war?

Irene Khan: Yes, of course. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights clearly states that propaganda for war is prohibited by international law. It must be remembered that these human rights agreements were concluded after the Second World War. The world has seen the damage that war can do, and so propaganda for war has been strictly forbidden. 

As a state of the modern world, in accordance with human rights, you do not have the right to call for war or aggression. It is forbidden. Absolutely. Likewise, inciting hatred is prohibited. What is hate speech? Hate speech is propaganda of hatred for the purpose of inciting actions that lead to discrimination, hostility, violence against others on the basis of race, religion, nationality or gender. This kind of speech should be prohibited. In doing so, we proceed from the premise that freedom of expression is an exceptionally valuable right. Independent, pluralistic, diverse media are very powerful tools for democracy and development.


[unofficial translation]

Read the full interview in the original Russian at UN News by clicking here.