There has been a disturbing increase in hate speech and incitement in recent years. The right to free speech is protected under international law, but speech that constitutes incitement to violence is prohibited. While states have the primary responsibility to prevent incitement and protect their people from atrocity crimes, we must all do more to stop hate speech and the violence it enables and encourages. Religious leaders can play a particularly important role in influencing the behaviour of those who share their beliefs. Unfortunately, religion has sometimes been misused to justify incitement to violence and discrimination, and it is vital that religious leaders from all faiths show leadership.
This Plan of Action, the result of two years of consultations with leaders from different faiths and religions around the world, includes a rich and broad range of suggestions for ways in which religious leaders and actors can prevent incitement to violence and contribute to peace and stability. All religions teach respect for life, and recognize human beings as fundamentally equal. This Plan of Action can help to save lives, reduce suffering, and realize our shared vision of peaceful, inclusive and just societies in which diversity is valued and the rights of all individuals are protected.