Under the guise of advancing what the United Nations refers to as “human rights,” the dictator-dominated global body is waging a full-blown assault on free-speech rights by pressuring governments to criminalize so-called “hate speech.” Indeed, working alongside radical government-funded activist groups and anti-liberty politicians around the world, the UN and other totalitarian-minded forces have now reached the point where they openly claim that what they call “international law” actually requires governments to ban speech and organizations they disapprove of. Critics, though, are fighting back in an effort to protect freedom of speech — among the most fundamental of all real rights.
While Americans’ God-given right to speak freely is firmly enshrined in the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment, the UN and its hordes of “human rights” bureaucrats are currently terrorizing and bullying the people of Japan — among others — in an effort to drastically curtail speech rights. Pointing to a tiny group of anti-Korean activists holding demonstrations in Japan, politicians and self-styled promoters of “human rights” have also joined the UN in its Soviet-inspired crusade to ban free expression. The Japanese Constitution, however, like the American one, includes strong protections for freedom of speech. Still, that has not stopped the UN from seeking to impose its radical speech restrictions on Japan anyway.
At least two separate UN outfits, the dictator-dominated “Human Rights Commission” and the UN “Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination,” have condemned Japan so far this year for failing to criminalize free speech while demanding immediate bans. The UN racial committee even released a report calling on Japanese politicians to overthrow the nation’s Constitution and take “appropriate steps to revise its legislation” by criminalizing and punishing speech, rallies, and groups considered “hateful.” The outfit also demanded a "comprehensive law prohibiting racial discrimination."
The "human rights" committee, meanwhile, demanded that Japanese authorities “prohibit all propaganda advocating racial superiority or hatred that incites to discrimination, hostility or violence.” Even speech on the Internet is in the UN's "human rights" crosshairs for regulation and prohibition. While anti-Korean speeches and rallies by the Japanese group “Zaitokukai” are being used as the pretext to terrorize Japan into changing its policies and infringing on citizens' constitutionally guaranteed freedoms, the UN’s anti-free speech scheming has far larger aims.
Incredibly, despite constitutional protections for free speech and the lack of any statute even purporting to criminalize free expression, Japanese courts have actually been relying on UN agreements to punish alleged “hate” speakers. Last summer, the high court in Osaka upheld a previous ruling against the Zaitokukai organization for its speeches and rallies outside of a North Korean propaganda "school" in Kyoto that brainwashes children into worshipping mass-murdering North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. The group was ordered to pay more than $100,000 for its supposed hate speech — again, despite the Constitution’s protections for free speech and the lack of a “hate speech” statute in Japan.
Also alarming to critics is that top members of the Japanese political class are already plotting to use “hate speech” laws to criminalize criticism of government and politicians. According to a recent report in the Economist magazine, revisionist politician Sanae Takaichi said “hate-speech” laws should be used to stop people from protesting government actions outside of Parliament. Lawmakers must be free to work “without any fear of criticism,” she explained, sending shivers down the spines of free-speech advocates. Apparently the totalitarian sentiment is widespread among the political class, though Japan’s justice minister has so far resisted UN calls to pursue “hate speech” schemes.
Much of the UN’s lobbying against freedom of speech in Japan, as in other nations, revolves around the “International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination” and similar planetary thought-police regimes. The radical UN agreement, which took effect in 1969 but was not ratified by Japanese authorities until the 1990s, purports to criminalize “discriminatory expression.” Under the global body’s anti-free-speech regime, national governments are supposedly “required” to ban all speech that might justify or promote racial hatred, hostility, or discrimination — and punish the perpetrators.
Then UN “Human Rights” Czar Navi Pillay, a South African who was widely ridiculed after her half-baked attacks on the United States in recent years, also offered some chilling insight into the dictator-dominated global body’s views on liberty. “Defining the line that separates protected from unprotected speech is ultimately a decision that is best made after a thorough assessment of the circumstances of each case,” she argued. In other words, any time somebody speaks, he or she must wonder whether their speech might run afoul of dubious UN notions of “hate speech” — to be decided after the fact.
Of course, the issue at hand is not really “hate speech.” Threats and incitement to violence are already crimes in Japan and virtually the entire civilized world, so no new statutes are needed to rein in the excesses of racist hatemongers. Instead, the real issues include freedom of speech, freedom of the press, real rights, national sovereignty, constitutional governance, and self-government. While racist speech is certainly ignorant, tasteless, and collectivist, using laws to criminalize it is not only futile — as has been shown on countless occasions — but extraordinarily dangerous. Instead, the free marketplace of ideas is the best way to counter hatemongering.
Even the notion of “hate speech,” though, has long been used to persecute innocent people for their political and religious beliefs. Across much of Europe, for instance, pastors and street preachers are regularly arrested and jailed for referring to homosexual activity as a sin. In Sweden, under the guise of waging war on “hate speech,” the Justice Ministry even investigated the Holy Bible. Meanwhile, at the global level, a broad coalition of Islamic dictators is seeking to criminalize criticism of Islam, its prophet, and the Quran worldwide using UN agreements.
The tyrannical origin of hate-speech laws, meanwhile, was highlighted in detail in a 2011 report by the respected Hoover Institution, exposing the origins of the machinations within the mass-murdering regime ruling the Soviet Union. “The introduction of hate-speech prohibitions into international law was championed in its heyday by the Soviet Union and allies,” the paper on the “sordid origin of hate-speech laws” explained. “Their motive was readily apparent. The communist countries sought to exploit such laws to limit free speech.” Acceptance of hate-speech schemes by what remains of the free world, the report added, could have “devastating consequences for the preservation of free speech.”
The UN, composed largely of brutal autocracies of various varieties, has also made its views on free speech rights perfectly clear. Just consider two examples documented by The New American in 2014. This summer, the head of a powerful UN agency, Director General Francis Gurry with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), threatened a journalist with criminal prosecution — for the "crime" of reporting on official documents alleging that he unlawfully sent U.S. technology to brutal dictators, retaliated against whistleblowers, and was involved in widespread corruption. More recently, the UN World Health Organization (WHO) physically removed the public and the media from a taxpayer-funded meeting in Moscow during which it decided to demand much higher global tobacco taxes.
Even the whole UN notion of “human rights” should be viewed for what it is: a tool of tyrants to attack the real rights that have underpinned Western traditions since the Magna Carta. Indeed, unbeknownst to average Americans and humanity as a whole, the UN means something very different when it discusses “human rights” than, say, the unalienable, God-given rights enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. In the American system, rights such as self-defense, free speech, religious liberty, trial by jury, privacy, and property ownership are endowed by the Creator upon every individual — a truth that America’s Founding Fathers viewed as “self-evident.”
Because individuals’ human rights come from God, then, they cannot be legitimately infringed upon by any government. In fact, according to the Founders, government was instituted for the express purpose of protecting those God-given rights from infringement. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” explains the American Declaration of Independence, which formally gave birth to the independent United States of America. “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men.”
Under the UN’s version of “human rights,” however, “rights” are purportedly defined and granted to people by governments, dictators, treaties, and international organizations. Even more troubling, perhaps, is that they can be restricted or abolished by government at will under virtually any pretext, as the UN’s own “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” openly admits. Consider Article 29 of the declaration, which claims that the pseudo-rights can be limited “by law” under the guise of everything from “public order” to “the general welfare.”
Separately, the same article claims that everyone has “duties to the community” and that “rights and freedoms” may “in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.” For perspective, that would be like the First Amendment saying Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech, unless that speech is being used to criticize Congress or otherwise makes Congress unhappy. Obviously, the two views on human rights are incompatible at a basic level. The two visions are actually almost opposites — unalienable God-given rights versus revocable government-granted privileges.
More evidence of how the UN views “human rights” can be found with a brief examination of the composition of its “Human Rights Council,” the highest “authority” within the UN system on the issue. In November of 2013, the outfit selected the most barbaric regimes on the planet to sit on the body. Among the mass-murdering regimes selected to sit on the UN’s self-styled “human rights” entity, for example, were the communist dictatorships enslaving the people of China, Cuba, and Vietnam. The socialist regime in Namibia was selected for the council, too, joining the brutal socialist autocracy ruling Venezuela that recently disarmed law-abiding citizens with UN help.
Also appointed were the hardline Islamist tyrants ruling over Algeria and Saudi Arabia, which considers converting to Christianity a capital offense and which continues to publicly behead “apostates” and others, ISIS-style. If the genocidal mass-murdering maniac ruling Sudan had not withdrawn his bid in the face of a global outcry, his seat on the council was all but assured. Ironically, the current UN “High Commissioner for Human Rights” comes from Jordan, where converting to Christianity is a crime. Less than a decade ago, the UN Commission on Human Rights, which preceded the council, was actually chaired by none other than brutal Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
While UN attacks on free speech under the guise of pseudo-human-rights are growing bolder with every passing day, the controversial global outfit — widely ridiculed as the “dictators club” — has no plans to stop there. In fact, in the United States, Japan, Canada, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and more, the UN has been using its phony notion of “rights” to attack real rights — ranging from self-defense and parental rights to self-government and even freedom of the press. In the upcoming January 19 print issue of The New American (available by subscription), this magazine extensively documents the full-scale UN attack on the U.S. constitutional system and the unalienable rights of Americans using “human rights” as the weapon.
Rather than entertaining the outlandish and totalitarian demands of the dictators club against the free world, civilized nations and free peoples should force their governments to defund and withdraw from the UN. Only then will the non-stop UN attacks on freedom and real rights come to an end. Until then, though, humanity must firmly oppose the UN’s autocratic scheming at every turn — lest the people’s true unalienable rights be usurped and trampled under the guise of bogus “human rights.”
Alex Newman, a foreign correspondent for The New American, is normally based in Europe. Follow him on Twitter @ALEXNEWMAN_JOU. He can be reached at