Original HRC document


Document Type: Final Report

Date: 2018 Apr

Session: 38th Regular Session (2018 Jun)

Agenda Item: Item9: Racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related forms of intolerance, follow-up and implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action



Human Rights Council Thirty-eighth session

18 June–6 July 2018

Agenda item 9

Racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related

forms of intolerance, follow-up to and implementation

of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action

Report of the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance

Note by the Secretariat

The Secretariat has the honour to transmit to the Human Rights Council the report of

the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia

and related intolerance, E. Tendayi Achiume, pursuant to General Assembly resolution

72/156. In the report, the Special Rapporteur addresses recent, concerning shifts in

ideologies and support for Nazism and neo-Nazism and their glorification. Contemporary

manifestations of Nazism and neo-Nazism constitute continuing human rights and

democratic challenges, and the Special Rapporteur recalls the applicable international

human rights legal framework in this context. The Special Rapporteur highlights the

broadening of neo-Nazi groups to embrace white nationalists and right-wing populist

movements, and the manner in which this broadening poses a serious threat to many racial,

ethnic and religious groups. Women, gender and sexually diverse populations, and persons

with disabilities are also targets. She documents the recent political impact and popularity

of neo-Nazism and its embrace even by political leaders at the highest levels of national

office. She also surveys the role of technology in consolidating neo-Nazism and its harmful

effects, especially where children and youth are concerned. In conclusion, the Special

Rapporteur offers recommendations for future research and consultations in order for States

to better understand and address the contemporary scourge of neo-Nazism. She also calls

on civil society organizations to form unified, diverse coalitions in opposition to neo-


United Nations A/HRC/38/53

Report of the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance



I. Introduction ................................................................................................................................... 3

II. Neo-Nazism: a brief overview ...................................................................................................... 3

III. Applicable legal framework .......................................................................................................... 5

IV. Contemporary manifestations of glorification of Nazism and neo-Nazism .................................. 6

A. Neo-Nazism’s broad ideological base and its social impact on racial equality .................... 6

B. The recent political impact and political popularity of neo-Nazism ..................................... 7

C. The role of technology in the spread of neo-Nazi ideology .................................................. 9

V. Conclusion and recommendations ................................................................................................. 11

I. Introduction

1. The present report is submitted to the Human Rights Council pursuant to General

Assembly resolution 72/156, in which the Assembly requested the Special Rapporteur to

prepare, for submission to, inter alia, the Council at its thirty-eighth session, a report on the

implementation of that resolution on combating glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and

other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial

discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.

2. In the present report, the Special Rapporteur addresses concerning shifts in the

ideologies and support for Nazism and neo-Nazism. She highlights, in particular, the

contemporary resurgence and spread of support for neo-Nazi ideologies in different parts of

the world, and the serious threat these ideologies pose to Jews, Muslims, people of African

descent, Roma, indigenous peoples, women, racial and ethnic minorities, gender and

sexually diverse populations, and persons with disabilities. Based on the previous reports to

the General Assembly and to the Human Rights Council, as well as on desk research, her

analysis examines these manifestations as contrary to human rights norms, including the

principles of equality and human dignity. Notwithstanding its historically specific and

geographically contained origins, neo-Nazi ideology remains a contemporary problem

affecting diverse populations.

3. As mandated by General Assembly resolution 72/156, the Special Rapporteur

intends to send questionnaires to member States and other relevant stakeholders in order to

inform her next report to the General Assembly and collect their views with regard to

combating glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to

fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related

intolerance. She especially welcomes examples of strategies and practices that States have

found successful in combating these phenomena.

II. Neo-Nazism: a brief overview

4. Nazi and neo-Nazi ideology are antithetical to the principles at the core of

international human rights.1 The very first article of the Universal Declaration of Human

Rights affirms that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are

endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of

brotherhood. Member states have issued a clear statement that any doctrine of superiority

based on racial differentiation is scientifically false, morally condemnable, socially unjust

and dangerous, and that there is no justification for racial discrimination, in theory or in

practice, anywhere.2

5. Nazism and neo-Nazism reject racial equality and even advocate extreme violence3

if necessary to achieve their vision of oppression and discrimination. At the core of these

ideologies is an unwavering commitment to the protection of the “purity” of the “Aryan

race” against other peoples who are cast as barbaric. Anti-Semitism is a central tool in this

ideology, and the extermination of Jews during the Holocaust remains a potent reminder of

why such ideology must never be tolerated and instead be vehemently combated. Neo-Nazi

intolerance is not limited to Jews or people of Jewish descent. It also vilifies many other

racial, ethnic and religious groups including Slavs, people of African descent and Muslims.

1 The term “neo-Nazi” generally refers to movements and groups that draw on the ideology of the National Socialist German Workers Party. Movements in this category are broadly premised on the

political philosophy advanced by Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany, but adherents adopt a wide variety of

other beliefs.

2 International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, preamble.

3 Holger H. Herwig, “Geopolitik: Haushofer, Hitler and lebensraum”, Journal of Strategic Studies, vol.

22, No. 2–3 (1999), pp. 218–241.

While anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, xenophobia and racism are central, neo-Nazism also

embraces homophobia and discrimination against people with disabilities.4

6. Although the philosophical commitments of Adolf Hitler are a central theme, neo-

Nazism has different variants. Indeed, some groups emphasize simple hatred against

historically discriminated groups, while others focus on the revolutionary creation of a

fascist political State.5 Neo-Nazism is also often closely aligned with white nationalism,

which shares a core commitment to white racial supremacy and the inferiority of non-white

people. This affiliation with white nationalism, as a contemporary trend of significance, is

discussed in more detail below.

7. At its extreme edges, members of the neo-Nazi umbrella believe a war between

races is imminent and thus seek to train and arm themselves in their quest for victory. These

groupings consist of militarized clusters of racist skinhead adherents of radical right-wing

ideology. Some activists acting on this belief and anticipating infiltration by security

agencies adopt “lone wolf” campaigns characterized by small cells of activists acting

without the leadership of the main group but drawing on its ideology to commit acts of

violence and terrorism premised on the ideology. The Special Rapporteur would like to

recall the horrendous act of terrorism that took place in Norway on July 2011 when Anders

Behring Breivik killed 77 persons, including 69 young persons, for the cause of racial

superiority. The killer clearly affiliated himself with neo-Nazi ideology, and his gruesome

attack, whose victims included many white Norwegians, demonstrates clearly why neo-

Nazism is a threat to nations as a whole, and not just to those racial and ethnic groups that

are its direct target.

8. In addition to these extreme adherents, today supporters of this ideology who do not

fit the conventional image of neo-Nazis are increasingly visible and proudly so.6 Neo-Nazis

also rely on various forms of popular culture to propagate their cause. For example, in

countries where Nazism and holocaust denial were prohibited, music became an important

tool used by neo-Nazi groups to spread their message and politicize potential followers.

Indeed, the main activities of these organizations include publishing and consuming music

and literature based on advancing Nazi ideology, staging grand meetings and making public


9. Neo-Nazism is by no means a new phenomenon. The emergence of the transnational

neo-Nazi movement can be traced back to as early as 1949 with the creation of the

European Liberation Front in London. 7 Since then, the number of neo-Nazi-affiliated

organizations has proliferated as new organizations and splinter groups emphasize different

aspects of the ideology. In the late twentieth century, a neo-Nazi culture increasingly began

to emerge in several different places worldwide, as local leaders imported ideas from

Scandinavia and Western Europe. 8 Neo-Nazi organizations started demanding racial

segregation and expulsion of non-white populations, especially in Europe and North

America. These organizations attempted to create a consciousness of white superiority from

which groups such as Jews, Roma and Sinti were among those excluded. Over time, the

appeal of the neo-Nazism movement has expanded progressively beyond its traditional

4 Raphael S. Ezekiel, “An ethnographer looks at neo-Nazi and Klan groups: the racist mind revisited”,

American Behavioral Scientist, vol. 46, No. 1 (2002), pp. 51–71.

5 Southern Poverty Law Center, “Neo-Nazi”. Available at https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-


6 In one country, white nationalists willing to support neo-Nazi ideology include “young men wearing

‘fashy’ haircuts, khakis and polo shirts”. Heidi Beirich and Susy Buchanan, “2017: the year in hate

and extremism”, Southern Poverty Law Center, 11 February 2018. Available at



7 Jean-Yves Camus, “Neo-Nazism in Europe”, in The Extreme Right in Europe, Uwe Backes and

Patrick Moreau, eds. (Göttingen, Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 2011), pp. 231–242.

8 Ibid., p. 236.

geographic bounds to include neo-Nazi organizations in countries beyond Europe and

North America.9

10. For many years, neo-Nazis were largely out of the mainstream, finding safe havens

on the Internet or in small local and generally private gatherings. Neo-Nazi organizations

were generally marginal and lacked political efficacy. However, in recent years, the rise of

white nationalism and right-wing populist parties around the world — embracing hate

speech towards specific groups of people that are generally despised by neo-Nazi groups —

has permitted neo-Nazism to grow in relevance.10 Media reports suggest that links between

American and European neo-Nazis are strong and growing stronger. With good reason, the

growing phenomenon of websites run by neo-Nazi and skinhead organizations is of

increasing interest and concern to European institutions. Unfortunately, it remains the case

that neo-Nazism is more than just the glorification of a past movement; it is a contemporary

movement with strong vested interests in racial inequality and an investment in gaining

broad support for its false claims of racial superiority.

III. Applicable legal framework

11. In the fight against the glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other similar

practices fuelling racial discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance, the Special Rapporteur

wishes to recall that States have the following obligations.

12. As mentioned in the preamble to the International Convention on the Elimination of

All Forms of Racial Discrimination, States have proclaimed with conviction that any

doctrine of superiority based on racial differentiation is scientifically false, morally

condemnable, socially unjust and dangerous, and that there is no justification for racial

discrimination, in theory or in practice, anywhere. Under article 5 of the Convention, States

have undertaken to prohibit and eliminate racial discrimination in all its forms and to

guarantee the right for everyone to enjoy various listed rights. According to article 4 of the

Convention, States must condemn all propaganda and all organizations that are based on

ideas or theories of superiority of one race or group of persons of one colour or ethnic

origin, or that attempt to justify or promote racial hatred and discrimination in any form.

Under this provision, States have also undertaken to adopt immediate and positive measures

designed to eradicate all incitement to, or acts of, such discrimination. Finally, article 4 also

requires States to declare as offences punishable by law: all dissemination of ideas based on

racial superiority or hatred; incitement to racial discrimination; all acts of violence or

incitement to such acts against any race or group of persons of another colour or ethnic

origin; and the provision of any assistance to racist activities, including the financing


13. The Special Rapporteur also wishes to remind States of their commitment under

article 87 of the Durban Declaration to move forward in taking action against and

condemning organizations that disseminate ideas based on racial superiority or hatred.

14. Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights guarantees the

fundamental right to hold opinions without interference. Significantly, article 20 of the

Covenant provides a vital clarification of the scope of the human right to freedom of

expression, namely that any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes

incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law.

15. While recalling the relevant legal framework, the Special Rapporteur wishes to also

reiterate that revisions of the Holocaust and attempts to falsify history not only contribute to

9 See, for example, Marcos Chor Maio, “Against racism: search for an alliance between Afro-

Brazilians and Brazilian Jews in the early 1990s”, Estudios Interdisciplinarios de América Latina y el

Caribe, vol. 10, No. 2 (2014). Available at http://eial.tau.ac.il/index.php/eial/article/view/1009/1044.

Jacqueline Z. Wilson, “Racist and political extremist graffiti in Australian prisons, 1970s to 1990s”,

Howard Journal of Crime and Justice, vol. 47, No. 1 (2008).

10 In one North American country, within the white supremacist movement, neo-Nazi groups saw the

greatest growth of 22 per cent, rising from 99 to 121 groups. Camus, “Neo-Nazism in Europe”, p. 238.

the rehabilitation and dissemination of Nazism and other extreme ideologies, but also create

fertile ground for nationalist and neo-Nazi demonstrations.11 Such revisionism may fall

under the prohibition of hate speech under article 4 (a), which States are required to declare

as offences punishable by law.

IV. Contemporary manifestations of glorification of Nazism and neo-Nazism

A. Neo-Nazisms broad ideological base and its social impact on racial equality

16. Neo-Nazism today regularly combines with other ideologies of racial superiority or

hatred as a means of widening acceptance and strengthening its support base. The Special

Rapporteur notes with concern the success of this strategy as suggested by growing support

and acceptance of neo-Nazi ideology in an increasing number of countries. To name but

one example, the former Special Rapporteur, in the report on his mission to Greece, 12

deplored the rise and normalization of neo-Nazi ideology and political parties grounded on

this ideology, such as the Golden Dawn, which entered the Athens City Council in 2010

and Parliament in 2012. The leadership and members of Golden Dawn had openly praised

Nazism and Adolf Hitler, and engaged in denial of the Holocaust and in anti-Semitic hate

speech as well as hate rhetoric against migrants.

17. The resurgence of neo-Nazism in contemporary times has much to do with the

broadening of this movement to include and contribute to various networks of white

supremacist, racist and xenophobic projects, especially the project of white nationalism,

and other extreme right-wing ideologies. This broadening of neo-Nazism has made it more

accessible, and by forging allegiances with other groups espousing ideologies of racial

hatred and superiority — including ideologies of white nationalism — neo-Nazi groups

have expanded their reach. As discussed below in more detail, political leaders and even

government officials at the highest level, have regrettably been complicit in this expansion.

18. The contemporary strengthening of neo-Nazism has had grave social consequences,

including violent acts by groups connected to this movement and who share related

ideologies of racial superiority and hatred.13 In Europe and North America especially, there

have been dramatic increases in anti-Semitic incidents tied to neo-Nazi groups and

affiliated white supremacist and white nationalist groups. As noted by the former Special

Rapporteur, several recent incidents were perpetrated by neo-Nazi-affiliated groups in

Greece, 14 Estonia, 15 Latvia, 16 Bulgaria, 17 the United States of America, 18 Ukraine, 19 the

Russian Federation 20 and Argentina, 21 to name a few. Contemporary iterations of Nazi

ideology have grown in their traditional strongholds and in some cases expanded beyond

them, posing a threat to racial equality in different parts of the world.

11 See A/HRC/23/24, para. 12.

12 See A/HRC/32/50/Add.1, para. 51.

13 OHCHR, “US racism on the rise, UN experts warn in wake of Charlottesville violence”, released on

16 August 2017. Available at:


14 See A/72/291, paras. 63–67.

15 Ibid., paras. 68–70.

16 Ibid., paras. 71–73.

17 Ibid., paras. 74–76.

18 See A/70/321, paras. 57–62.

19 Ibid., paras. 63–67.

20 A/HRC/26/21, p. 60, and a joint letter from the Special Rapporteur and the Special Rapporteur on the

human rights of migrants (RUS 2/2014). Available at https://spdb.ohchr.org/hrdb/25th/Public_-


21 See A/71/325, para. 10; and A/70/321, para. 9.

19. In January 2018, anti-Semitic posts on social media and conversations denying the

Holocaust rose by almost thirty per cent compared with the same period in 2016.22 On

average, around 550 posts a day used neo-Nazi and anti-Semitic symbols, and 108 posts a

day denied the Holocaust.23

20. In the United States, anti-Semitic incidents rose by nearly 60 per cent, with 1,986

anti-Semitic incidents occurring in 2017.24 Similarly, in the United Kingdom, anti-Semitic

hate incidents have reached record highs, with a total of 1,382 recorded in 2017.25 Germany

has also seen a rise in hate crimes perpetrated by neo-Nazis.26 Government intelligence

agency reports also show an uptick in far-right violent crimes.27

21. An emerging neo-Nazi group in the United States, Atomwaffen, has been linked to

the suspects of at least five recent murders.28 A well-known white supremacist website,

Stormfront.org, or as dubbed by the Southern Poverty Law Center, “the murder capital of

the internet”, is linked to almost 100 killings between 2009 and 2015.29 White supremacist

murders more than doubled in 2017 compared with 2016 — accounting for 18 of the total

34 extremist-related murders in the United States.30

B. The recent political impact and political popularity of neo-Nazism

22. The Special Rapporteur expresses her deep concerns at the general growing presence

of expressions of Nazism, neo-Nazism and fascism in politics worldwide, especially in

several European and North American countries. Neo-Nazi groups today are emboldened

by prominent populist leaders who share their beliefs and espouse the same rhetoric as they

do. Indeed, the rise of populism and, especially, right-wing, nationalist populism has, in

some countries, aided the popularity of neo-Nazi ideology. Although many nationalist

populist leaders in Europe, North America and Australia 31 formally disavow neo-Nazi

ideology, they nonetheless express support for racist and xenophobic tenets that are

premised on similar ideologies of racial superiority that are at the core of neo-Nazi ideology.

All theories of racial superiority, and all efforts to scapegoat persons on the basis of their

race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation or related status make the work of neo-

Nazis easier. Even where neo-Nazis are not formally included in Government, the presence

therein of extreme right-wing ideologues can have the effect of injecting into governance

and political discourse the very same ideologies that make neo-Nazism so dangerous.

22 See www.worldjewishcongress.org/en/news/holocaust-denial-and-anti-semitism-on-social-media-up-


23 World Jewish Congress, “Anti-Semitic symbols and Holocaust denial in social media posts: January

2018”. Available from the web page in the preceding footnote.

24 Anti-Defamation League, “2017 audit of anti-Semitic incidents”. Available at


25 Community Security Trust, “Antisemitic incidents report 2017”. Available at


26 Germany, Federal Ministry of the Interior, Versfassungschutzbericht 2016 (Berlin, 2017), pp. 23–24

and 40. Available at https://www.verfassungsschutz.de/embed/vsbericht-2016.pdf.

27 Deutsche Welle, “Germany: far-right violence and Islamist threat on the rise”, 4 April 2017.

Available at www.dw.com/en/germany-far-right-violence-and-islamist-threat-on-the-rise/a-39534868.

28 Anti-Defamation League, “Murder and extremism in the United States in 2017: an ADL Center on

extremism report”. Available at https://www.adl.org/resources/reports/murder-and-extremism-in-the-


29 Heidi Beirich, “White homicide worldwide” (Alabama, Southern Poverty Law Center, 2014).

Available at



30 Anti-Defamation League press release, “ADL report: white supremacist murders more than doubled

in 2017”, 17 January 2018. Available at https://www.adl.org/news/press-releases/adl-report-white-

supremacist-murders-more-than-doubled-in-2017. See also River Donaghey, “Armed neo-Nazi

attempted terror attack on Amtrak train”, Vice, 5 January 2018. Available at



31 See A/HRC/35/41/Add.4, para. 51.

23. As a previous Special Rapporteur has noted, right-wing populism spreads and

exploits antipathy towards ethnic, racial or religious minorities by accusing these groups of

having co-opted political elites for their own advancement. Furthermore, as another Special

Rapporteur has also noted, in times of great social, political and economic anxiety in the

global North, it is among those who perceive themselves as the most marginalized

(including among white majorities) that such antipathy can gain easy traction. To exploit

the public’s dissatisfaction with, and fear and resentment of, the conditions of the State and

personal circumstances, right-wing populists adopt and advance opinions and trends that

are likely to fuel populist mobilization. In this regard, the following statement by the United

Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights captures a persisting dynamic:

Populists use half-truths and oversimplification — the two scalpels of the

arch propagandist, and here the Internet and social media are a perfect rail for them,

by reducing thought into the smallest packages: sound-bites; tweets. Paint half a

picture in the mind of an anxious individual, exposed as they may be to economic

hardship and through the media to the horrors of terrorism. Prop this picture up by

some half-truth here and there and allow the natural prejudice of people to fill in the

rest. Add drama, emphasizing it is all the fault of a clear-cut group, so the speakers

lobbing this verbal artillery, and their followers, can feel somehow blameless.

The formula is therefore simple: make people, already nervous, feel terrible,

and then emphasize it is all because of a group, lying within, foreign and menacing.

Then make your target audience feel good by offering up what is a fantasy to them,

but a horrendous injustice to others. Inflame and quench, repeat many times over,

until anxiety has been hardened into hatred.32

24. Right-wing populists in some nations have shown themselves willing to align with

white nationalists and even neo-Nazis. In the last presidential election in the United States,

President Trump’s reliance on a political platform regularly espousing white nationalist

beliefs and vilifying racial, religious and national minorities created a safe harbour for neo-

Nazi ideology and action.33 Following the election of President Trump, he has on grave

occasion failed to condemn in an outright manner the glorification of neo-Nazism.34

25. In some countries in which expressions of Nazism and fascism are not prohibited,

several neo-Nazi parties have emerged and contested electoral processes. In some European

countries, political parties aligning themselves with neo-Nazi ideologies have emerged in

mainstream politics. Some such parties have achieved varying levels of electoral success,

32 Speech delivered at the Peace, Justice and Security Foundation gala, The Hague, 5 September 2016.

Available at www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=20452.

33 Ibid. In that statement, the High Commissioner for Human Rights condemned the presidential

candidate and other political leaders in Europe whose racial ideologies have made the world a more

hospitable place for outright neo-Nazism. See Jessica Reaves, “White supremacists celebrate Trump’s

victory”, Anti-Defamation League, 10 November 2016 (available at https://www.adl.org/blog/white-


505254518.1522706891); Anti-Defamation League, “ADL deeply concerned over reports of anti-

Semitic & hate incidents following election 2016”, 14 November 2016 (available at


incidents-following); Human Rights Watch, “Update: US President Trump’s response to

Charlottesville events”, 14 August 2017 (available at https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/08/14/update-

us-president-trumps-response-charlottesville-events); Anti-Defamation League, “White supremacists

react gleefully to President Trump’s ‘rogue’ press conference”, 17 August 2017 (available at


conference); and Anti-Defamation League, “Anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. in the wake of

Charlottesville rally”, 30 August 2017 (available at https://www.adl.org/blog/anti-semitic-incidents-


34 Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, “UN body criticizes US ‘failure at the

highest political level to unequivocally reject racist violent events’”, 23 August 2017. Available at

www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=21990. OHCHR, “US racism on

the rise, UN experts warn in wake of Charlottesville violence”, 16 August 2017. Available at

www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=21975. Beirich and Buchanan,

“2017: the year in hate and extremism”.

allowing them in some cases to secure legislative seats. As of July 2017, right-wing

populist parties were in Government in eight European countries: Finland, Greece, Hungary,

Latvia, Norway, Poland, Slovakia and Switzerland, while there are three nationalist parties

that are now part of the governing coalition in Bulgaria.35 It was estimated that the total

number of European voters who supported a populist party in their latest general elections

amounted to 21.4 per cent.36

26. In sum, white supremacist and neo-Nazi ideologies have a symbiotic relationship

with right-wing populism, each strengthening the other. By adopting the language and core

ideas of these extreme ideologies, right-wing populists gain political power by mobilizing

these groups to vote for them. In turn, when populist politicians gain mainstream success,

white nationalist and neo-Nazi ideas become more socially acceptable. Emboldened by

seeing leaders sympathetic to their cause in Government, white supremacists and neo-Nazis

increasingly occupy public platforms and recruit new members.

C. The role of technology in the spread of neo-Nazi ideology

27. Neo-Nazis and white supremacist groups have taken advantage of new digital

technologies and social platforms to promote their ideologies and arguments.37 Indeed, the

Internet has made it easier for people to communicate, express their views and engage in

debate across vast distances. The Internet has also provided groups espousing racial

superiority and hatred with effective platforms for spreading their messages, organizing

events and raising money. 38 The anonymity provided by the Internet and social media

allows people to express views that they would deny in public.39 Moreover, the interactivity

of new social media platforms allows for the easier creation of virtual communities in

which extremists can easily disseminate information to their target audiences.40

1. Digital recruitment, especially of youth

28. The Internet, and social media in particular, have become a growing means through

which neo-Nazi groups recruit followers. It is documented that hate groups such as these

usually direct their recruitment efforts at targeting susceptible individuals, such as loners

and children. Groups espousing racial superiority — including neo-Nazis — have

increasingly targeted children and youth as recruits because they are typically more

impressionable, may feel alone and marginal, and desire a sense of identity and group

belonging.41 Some neo-Nazi websites are specifically tailored towards children, with the

aim of their indoctrination. Neo-Nazi websites appeal to children through music, activities,

games, “memes” and cartoon characters on their websites.42 Indeed, even video games exist

35 See https://timbro.se/app/uploads/2017/07/briefing-timbro-authoritarian-populism-index-2017.pdf.

The three nationalist parties in Bulgaria are: Attack, the Bulgarian National Movement and the

National Front for the Salvation of Bulgaria.

36 Ibid.

37 See A/HRC/26/49, para. 18. For example, the major hate forum, Stormfront, now has more than

300,000 members. Mark Potok, “The year in hate and extremism”, Southern Poverty Law Center, 17

February 2016. Available at https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/intelligence-report/2016/year-

hate-and-extremism. The site has been adding about 25,000 registered users annually for several years.

38 Francie Diep, “How social media helped organize and radicalize America’s white supremacists”,

Pacific Standard, 15 August 2017. Available at https://psmag.com/social-justice/how-social-media-


39 LaShel Shaw, “Hate speech in cyberspace: bitterness without boundaries”, Notre Dame Journal of

Law, Ethics and Public Policy, vol. 25, No. 1 (2012), pp. 279–304.

40 Gabriel Weimann, “Terrorist migration to social media”, Georgetown Journal of International Affairs,

vol. 16, No. 1 (2015), pp. 180–187, at p. 181.

41 Ibid.

42 Michael Edison Hayden, “Neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer is ‘designed to target children’ as young

as 11 for radicalization, editor claims”, Newsweek, 16 January 2018. Available at

www.newsweek.com/website-daily-stormer-designed-target-children-editor-claims-782401. See also

Julian Baumrin, “Internet hate speech and the First Amendment, revisited”, Rutgers Computer &

Technology Law Journal, vol. 37, No. 1–2 (2011), p. 230 (“typical methods of attraction include

that are devoted to propagating ideologies of racial superiority and racial hatred. One

example of such a game brought to the attention of the Special Rapporteur involves the

player playing the role of a neo-Nazi person tasked with killing non-whites or groups

identified as enemies by neo-Nazi groups. Furthermore, some of the neo-Nazi websites and

forums include revisionist historical educational lessons for children.

29. A study done by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural

Organization entitled “Youth and Violent Extremism on Social Media” explains that, while

there is some correlation between youth violence and extremist propaganda, the exact roles

of the Internet and social media in contributing to the radicalization process needs further


2. Digital platforms as sites of hate speech and incitement to violence

30. In addition to recruitment, neo-Nazis and other hate groups also use digital platforms

to incite hatred and violence on racial, ethnic, religious and related grounds.44, 45 The ease

and rapidity with which information can now be shared online, especially through social

media platforms, means these platforms have now become arguably the most frequent sites

of hate speech, and even incitement to violence. These platforms have facilitated the global

transmission of harmful stereotypes against stigmatized groups targeted by groups such as

neo-Nazis. Such stereotypes and related propaganda make violence against targeted groups

more acceptable and arguably more likely.46 In addition, neo-Nazi and related groups have

also relied on online platforms to plan and circulate information about public events that

range from demonstrations to acts of violence, including targeting groups and individuals

on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation and

related grounds.

31. As just mentioned, digital platforms are now a hotbed for the spread of ideologies of

racial superiority. YouTube is the main content generator for some of the most intense

right-wing media. YouTube stores billions of videos and has a massive reach of over 1.5

billion viewers a month.47 It directs viewers to videos based on videos previously watched;

thus, a person who watches a neo-Nazi video will be directed to similar content. Notably,

videos are used by neo-Nazis to help create false images.48 For example, a video of a neo-

cloaking racist and xenophobic messages within music, games, activities, and cartoon characters”);

John M. Cotter, “Sounds of hate: white power rock and roll and the neo-Nazi skinhead subculture”,

Terrorism and Political Violence, vol. 11, No. 2 (1999), p. 121; James Paul Gee, “Stories, probes, and

games”, Narrative Inquiry, vol. 21, No. 2 (2011), p. 356; and Phyllis B. Gerstenfeld, Diana R. Grant

and Chau-Pu Chiang, “Hate online: a content analysis of extremist Internet sites”, Analyses of Social

Issues and Public Policy, vol. 3, No. 1 (2003), pp. 29–44, at p. 35.

43 Séraphin Alava, Divina Frau-Meigs and Ghayda Hassan, Youth and Violent Extremism on Social

Media: Mapping the Research (Paris, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural

Organization, 2017). Available at http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0026/002603/260382e.pdf.

44 See, for example, Beirich, “White homicide worldwide” (analysing the connection between

membership in an online platform espousing ideologies of racial superiority, incitement to violence

and actual violence against targeted groups); and Diep, “How social media helped organize and

radicalize America’s white supremacists” (discussing the use of social media to coordinate a rally that

included neo-Nazis and other hate groups and at which 1 person was killed and 19 others injured).

45 Beirich, “White homicide worldwide”.

46 Kusminder Chahal, Supporting Victims of Hate Crime: A Practitioners Guide (Bristol, Policy Press,

2016); Danielle Keats Citron and Helen L. Norton, “Intermediaries and hate speech: fostering digital

citizenship for our information age”, Boston University Law Review, vol. 91 (2011), p. 1437; Travis

Morris, “Networking vehement frames: neo-Nazi and violent jihadi demagoguery”, Behavioural

Sciences of Terrorism and Political Aggression, vol. 6, No. 3 (2014), pp. 163–182, at pp. 163–171;

and Linda M. Woolf and Michael R. Hulsizer, “Intra- and inter-religious hate and violence: a

psychosocial model”, Journal of Hate Studies, vol. 2, No. 5 (2003), pp. 5–25.

47 Bob Moser, “How YouTube became the worldwide leader in white supremacy”, New Republic, 21

August 2017. Available at https://newrepublic.com/article/144141/youtube-became-worldwide-


48 Brentin Mock, “Neo-Nazi groups share hate via YouTube”, Southern Poverty Law Center, 20 April

2007. Available at https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/intelligence-report/ 2007/neo-nazi-groups-


Nazi rally in one country blurred out anti-racist protestors to help present a powerful image

of a particular branch of neo-Nazis.49

32. Twitter has been utilized as a primary social media platform to exercise attacks on

journalists. Journalists rely on Twitter to share information and publish their work. During

the recent United States presidential campaign, anti-Semitic language was used in 2.6

million tweets generating more than 10 billion impressions.50 A significant number of the

anti-Semitic tweeters identified as supporters of the nationalist populist candidate who

eventually won that election.51 These tweets were directed primarily at Jewish journalists as

well as non-Jewish journalists who criticized that candidate.52

33. As social media platforms attempt to combat neo-Nazi and other ideologies of hate,

a challenge they face is the variation in national standards prohibiting hate speech.

Countries that have legal frameworks that protect speech that is prohibited elsewhere

ultimately serve as safe havens for neo-Nazi speech.53 Consequently, many hate groups host

their sites on Internet service providers in the United States.54

34. Although social media companies are slowly working towards a better control of

content posted on their platforms,55 as recommended by the Committee on the Elimination

of Racial Discrimination in its general recommendation No. 35 (2013) on combating racist

hate speech, there is still much work to be done effectively to address racial hatred and

intolerance online.56

V. Conclusion and recommendations

35. There are deep structural causes behind the rise of extreme and unashamed

ideologies of racial superiority, including neo-Nazism. These require reform at a

fundamental level, including counteracting the economic inequality that can catalyse

intolerance and discrimination. At the same time, there are discrete measures that

States can take to combat some of the trends identified in this report, especially the

role of technology in aiding neo-Nazism, and the effects of neo-Nazism on children and

youth, and their involvement in affiliated groups. As a matter of priority, more

research is required to develop a better understanding of these two issues. As a result,

the Special Rapporteur makes the following recommendations to member States:

(a) The Special Rapporteur reiterates the recommendations contained in the

reports of her predecessors to the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly,

as they remain valid and current. She also urges States to take immediate measures to

combat direct and indirect manifestations of neo-Nazism, racism and related

intolerance, including implementing legal sanctions;

49 Ibid.

50 Anti-Defamation League, “Anti-Semitic targeting of journalists during the 2016 presidential

campaign” (New York, 19 October 2016). Available at



51 Ibid.

52 Ibid.

53 For example, the legal frameworks of one North American country have been favourable to neo-Nazi

and other hate groups propagating hate speech. Peter J. Breckheimer, “A haven for hate: the foreign

and domestic implications of protecting internet hate speech under the First Amendment”, Southern

California Law Review, vol. 75 (2002), pp. 1493–1528, at p. 1506. Ira Steven Nathenson, “Super-

intermediaries, code, human rights”, Intercultural Human Rights Law Review, vol. 8, No. 19 (2013),

pp. 96–97.

54 Ibid.

55 Julia Fioretti, “Social media companies accelerate removals of online hate speech: EU”, Reuters.

Available at https://www.reuters.com/article/us-eu-hatespeech/social-media-companies-accelerate-


56 See A/HRC/26/49, para. 17.

(b) The Special Rapporteur urges States to assist civil society organizations

representing the spectrum of populations directly impacted by contemporary

manifestations of neo-Nazism and related intolerance, by providing them with the

resources necessary to form and sustain diverse and transnational coalitions.

Notwithstanding its historically specific and geographically contained origins, neo-

Nazi ideology remains a contemporary problem affecting diverse populations as

discussed above. Its common impact on peoples of different racial, ethnic, religious or

related groups should unite these groups, including across borders, in the fight against


(c) In the light of General Assembly resolution 72/156, which mandates the

present report, the Special Rapporteur wishes to echo the Assemblys encouragement

of States that have made reservations to article 4 of the International Convention on

the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination to withdraw these reservations

due to its obligatory character. She also calls upon States to continue taking steps

through national legislation in accordance with international human rights law, aimed

at preventing hate speech and incitement to violence. States must withdraw support

financial and otherwise from political parties and other organizations that

engage in neo-Nazi or other hate speech or fail forcefully to condemn such speech by

their members. Where such hate speech aims, or can reasonably be expected to incite

violence, States must take steps to dismantle the responsible organizations;

(d) States should provide resources, including to this mandate, for research

and consultations, including with stakeholders such as private technology and social

media companies, in order to deepen international understanding of how technology is

aiding the spread of racial and related intolerance. This research should also produce

recommendations for concrete steps for combating the advance of neo-Nazism

through online technologies;

(e) States should provide resources, including to this mandate, for research

and consultations, including technology and social media companies and experts in

child psychology, to deepen international understanding of the impact of neo-Nazism

on youth and children, and the factors that draw youth to neo-Nazi movements. This

research and related consultations should also produce a blueprint for combating

youth and child involvement in neo-Nazism;

(f) States must also take immediate measures to combat direct and indirect

manifestations of neo-Nazism, racism, xenophobia and related intolerance affecting

youth and children, including their recruitment to extremist groups.

36. For her next report to the General Assembly on neo-Nazism, the Special

Rapporteur respectfully calls on States to share information on their concerns and

good practices with respect to technology and youth where neo-Nazism is concerned,

as outlined in this report. She will issue a formal call for submissions in this regard in

due course.