Last Updated on August 3, 2021
Joe Biden’s Secretary of State Tony Blinken recently announced that he is inviting United Nations racism inspectors to the United States to conduct a report on American society. Blinken specifically invited Fernand de Varennes, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues, and Tendayi Achiume, the UN Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism. NATIONAL FILE has obtained video footage of de Varennes calling for the criminalization of “hate speech” and pushing for censorship by saying that free expression is not absolute. de Varennes even said that “I don’t think it will take that much effort” to pass legislation in the United States holding social media companies liable for supposed hate speech. NATIONAL FILE has also compiled evidence of both Varennes and Achiume bashing President Donald Trump and his supporters, and of Achiume calling for reparations for slavery and for “Migration as Decolonization” in Western countries including the United States of America.
Joe Biden’s Secretary of State Tony Blinken, who headed a Biden project at the University of Pennsylvania that took millions of dollars in anonymous Chinese donations, recently stated: “As the President has repeatedly made clear, great nations such as ours do not hide from our shortcomings; they acknowledge them openly and strive to improve with transparency. It is in this context that the United States intends to issue a formal, standing invitation to all UN experts who report and advise on thematic human rights issues,” he continued. “As a first step, we have reached out to offer an official visit by the UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism and the UN Special Rapporteur on minority issues.”
In a 2019 seminar for the Centre for Comparative and Public Law, Fernand de Varennes stated (emphasis added): “Germany last year I think set up an institute which has the mandate, a national mandate, to watch over social media…It is a quite intrusive approach, but maybe this is what — I don’t want to express my personal view right now — but I think we have to consider, look at this much more closely. There are extremely dangerous conditions that are being created through the use of social media, created to propagate hate, and the demonizing of the other individuals…The right balance is what is required from a human rights point of view, international human rights. Freedom of expression in international human rights is not absolute. So therefore we have an obligation, I have an obligation in my view, to try to look much more closely at where this balance lies, specifically in relation to social media, hate speech, and intolerance against minorities. I don’t want to suggest I’m oriented in one particular direction but the suggestion would seem to be implied that you cannot restrict social media or non-governmental actors in this field? I would reject that…There is a tendency in some countries to assume freedom of expression has to be absolute. I don’t share that view, I don’t think it’s what is required under international human rights standards. When we talk about freedom of expression, there are situations where we can and in fact where we must restrict forms of speech that propagate hate. Finding the right balance, I’m not sure. We’ll be working on it.”
de Varennes appeared in another forum called “The Holocaust Did Not Begin At Auschwitz: Hate Speech And Atrocities In The Age of Social Media,” in which he praised a United Nations fact-checking mission that indicted Facebook for supposedly hosting hate speech with regard to the situation in Myanmar. “And in case you might be tempted to dismiss this as a rather farfetched incident in a non-Western country, may I remind you that a United States politician very recently, in fact now re-elected, used social media to blame fires in California on quote-unquote ‘secret Jewish space lasers’ instead of admitting that the world’s climate is changing.” (7:00 Minute Mark In Video Below). de Varennes was referring to Georgia Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, who in 2018 made a comment on social media about possible weather-manipulation techniques that she believed could be tied to the Rothschild banking dynasty, but she never used the term “Jewish space lasers” as de Varennes falsely stated.
At the 16:30 Minute Mark, de Varennes stated: “The Holocaust did not start with the gas chambers. It started with hate speech against a minority…Think of what Goebbels could do today with social media and he would have a relatively free reign right now.” At the 17:50 Minute Mark, de Varennes stated, “There’s a gender dimension here,that in the sense that women who belong to despised minorities…can easily become the targets of abuse and violence. They can be otherized and objectified, especially in social media…Afro-American women also, women of color or minority backgrounds in the United States and others, that they can become even greater targets for vitriol, violence, brutality, and even other forms of violence. So, that’s the direction we’re heading now. Evil has to be named…”
At the 19:50 Minute Mark, de Varennes stated, “I suggest, rather I suggested the time has come for a global approach and leadership from the United Nations to regulate hate speech in social media, and take up the challenge of providing the guidance and drafting more precisely the human rights legal obligations that are needed to protect freedom of expression and minorities and to avoid as I mentioned earlier states from threatening in fact human rights defenders themselves…My report concludes that social media has to be regulated, and this is in part also because they had a very profitable free run for a long time, but the Wild West is finished. Social media literally profit from hate…This, I’ve suggested, needs to be addressed head on. No private business should be immune or be able to act with impunity for the harm and violence which they directly contribute to and can unleash.” Varennes called for “a global regulatory approach.” Varennes said “What we are seeing today is a toxic, and increasingly toxic environment of misinformation, disinformation, racism, intolerance, xenophobia, with hate speech online scapegoating minorities. All of this is contributing to a global increase in violence toward minorities…Hate speech was not born with the pandemic, but it’s clear, absolutely unambiguous now, that hate speech against minorities has been increasing dramatically, gaining ground…”
At the 32:20 Minute Mark, de Varennes stated, “Without prejudging very much, I think the German model approach is something to look at…I think it is one possible tool that can be used in relation to prohibiting without necessarily criminizing (sic). That social media platforms would have a certain period of time to remove certain types of, certain forms of speech of certain postings which have been flagged as the type which should be prohibited.”
At the 42:50 Minute Mark, de Varennes stated, “This is a global problem…I think the environment is also changing in the U.S., there are hearings being held right now…The days of no liability are finished…So I think, I mentioned that in relation to the alternative platforms that you mentioned. We have to, in my opinion…we are going to initiate a process by the way under my mandate to try to draft specific guidelines, global guidelines, focusing on minorities once again and social media as such. It seems to me that the time has come that all platforms have to be, there must be some kind of liability for all platforms to be recognized, and that states be encouraged to adopt specific legislation in that regard for liability and responsibility. And this will provide a model by the way for countries perhaps even as United States, as I believe it may be heading in fact. I don’t think it will take that much effort.”
At the 47:00 Minute Mark, de Varennes stated, “Certainly there is in recent years a growing pandemic of hate speech, probably because we are going through extremely challenging times, times of upheaval, with environmental threats, the pandemic of course, but also in terms of society, where people are, feel less secure. And unfortunately, and we’ve seen this in our history by the way, unfortunately in times of insecurity and crisis, individuals are often looking for simple solutions to complex problems. And I think partially we are seeing that phenomenon. And at the same time we are seeing a rise of nationalism in a number of countries, but a nationalism which needs a scapegoat. And historically once again minorities tend to be a very convenient scapegoat to blame for all sorts of problems and politicians are trying to gain support and votes actually by pointing and blaming minorities for all kinds of difficulties and challenges. And I think, I think partially this helps to understand the explosion of hate speech that we’re encountering. And it’s not likely to slow down because we’re actually, people seem to be more frustrated and fearful than ever before. In terms of what kind of liabilities for social platforms and even for individuals, let me answer it this way. The simplest answer is that there are certain forms of hate speech which are actually incitement to genocide. That has to be criminalized. I mean, that’s the easiest answer even in the case of individuals…Individuals also have to be prohibited, so there should be at the very least social media platforms themselves suspending, ending certain accounts where in fact you have incitement to violence as recognized in international human rights law. In the case of the platforms that do not do it, I think we need to legislate once again. There needs to be an international global regulatory framework which would tell states or illustrate to states how this needs to be done and framed as such. And thirdly, in terms of the liability, I use an expression…you have to hit social media platforms where it hurts and where it hurts is in their wallet. Their profit.”
Fernand de Varennes spoke at The 2019 Annual International Law and Religion Symposium in Provo, Utah, where he couldn’t resist taking a jab at President Donald Trump, who criticized MS-13 gang members for terrorizing women and law-abiding Americans. Varennes sneered, (10:15 Minute Mark In Video Below) “Many, in fact too many politicians blame more and more blame religious and other minorities. They will blame migrants, they will blame refugees. For not integrating quickly enough. Or disrespecting the government or society in a sense. Or being a threat, because, and we’ve all heard this, because they’re potentially antisocial, rapists, criminals, terrorists. It’s very easy to do that.” Varennes went on to say that in some countries laws against hate speech are often “insufficiently enforced.”
de Varennes said that “history shows us that once you begin to dehumanize minorities as lesser deserving human beings, as we saw with Nazi Germany and the Shoah…” At the 20:00 Minute Mark, de Varennes stated, “Politics of division and the rhetoric of intolerance are mainly targeting racial, ethnic, linguistic, or religious minorities, and migrants and refugees…so social and other non traditional media has become weaponized…Unfortunately it seems that individuals inclined towards racism, misogyny or homophobia proliferate in their own enclosed social media niches, and that can reinforce their views, and in the case of some individuals even lead them in the path of violence…In order to enable the United Nations and countries which are devoted to the respect of fundamental human rights for all, but especially religious and other minorities who are once again the most vulnerable and the most targeted, we need to find new ways to respond effectively. And this will require addressing the root causes of hate speech and other human rights violations that target particularly minorities…The disease of the mind requires effective medicine, targeted measures…”
In March 2020, Fernand de Varennes stated: “COVID-19 is not just a health issue; it can also be a virus that exacerbates xenophobia, hate and exclusion. Reports of Chinese and other Asians being physically attacked; of hate speech blaming minorities including Roma, Hispanics and others for the spread of the virus; and of politicians calling for migrants to be denied access to medical services, all show that States need to urgently emphasise that the human rights of everyone, in particular of the most vulnerable and marginalized, must be protected….“The coronavirus outbreak endangers the health of all of us, with no distinction as to language, religion or ethnicity. But some are more vulnerable than others. All of us can take steps to resist this rise in discriminatory and hate speech against Asian and other minorities in social media, including by joining our voices in messages of support with the hashtags #IAmNotAVirus or #JeNeSuisPasUnVirus.”
In June 2020, Fernand de Varennes co-authored a statement with fellow United Nations experts that stated the following: “The recent killing of George Floyd has shocked many in the world, but it is the lived reality of black people across the United States. The uprising nationally is a protest against systemic racism that produces state-sponsored racial violence, and licenses impunity for this violence. The uprising also reflects public frustration and protest against the many other glaring manifestations of systemic racism that have been impossible to ignore in the past months, including the racially disparate death rate and socioeconomic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the disparate and discriminatory enforcement of pandemic-related restrictions. This systemic racism is gendered. The protests the world is witnessing, are a rejection of the fundamental racial inequality and discrimination that characterize life in the United States for black people, and other people of color. The response of the President of the United States to the protests at different junctures has included threating more state violence using language directly associated with racial segregationists from the nation’s past, who worked hard to deny black people fundamental human rights. We are deeply concerned that the nation is on the brink of a militarized response that reenacts the injustices that have driven people to the streets to protest. Expressions of solidarity—nationally and internationally—are important but they are not enough. Many in the United States and abroad are finally acknowledging that the problem is not a few bad apples, but instead the problem is the very way that economic, political and social life are structured in a country that prides itself in liberal democracy, and with the largest economy in the world. The true demonstration of whether Black lives do indeed matter remains to be seen in the steps that public authorities and private citizens take in response to the concrete demands that protestors are making. One example is nationwide calls to rollback staggering police and military budgets, and for reinvestment of those funds in healthcare, education, housing, pollution prevention and other social structures, especially in communities of color that have been impoverished and terrorized by discriminatory state intervention. Reparative intervention for historical and contemporary racial injustice is urgent, and required by international human rights law. This is a time for action and not just talk, especially from those who need not fear for their lives or their livelihoods because of their race or ethnicity.” (Statement from UN experts ends)
In March 2020, the World Jewish Congress stated: “The World Jewish Congress, representing Jewish communities in more than 100 countries, would like to thank the Special Rapporteur, Dr. Fernand de Varennes, for his important work in combating hate speech, incitement and discrimination against all minorities…Mr. Rapporteur, you echoed a similar sentiment when you participated at the High-Level Meeting to prevent and combat antisemitism, racism, xenophobia, radicalization and hate speech, organized by the World Jewish Congress and the Romanian EU Presidency in June 2019. You spoke out against the dehumanization of minorities and reminded us how hate speech, propaganda, fake news and conspiracies were the building blocks of mass atrocities and even genocide. Mr. Rapporteur, in light of the above, how can civil society and the Human Rights Council work together to prevent the rise of hate speech against all minorities?”
Meanwhile, UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism E. Tendayi Achiume, a UCLA law professor from Zambia, is strident in her radical views.
In June 2020, Tendayi wrote (emphasis added): “On Wednesday, June 17, 2020, the United Nations Human Rights Council will hold an “Urgent Debate” on systemic racism in law enforcement. The proximate catalyst for this debate is the recent police killing of George Floyd and many other Black people in the United States, and the breath-taking national and transnational uprising of the past two weeks against systemic racism in law enforcement. The Urgent Debate is more than opportunity for discussion—it’s an opportunity for meaningful action. In a letter to the President of the UN Human Rights Council, I, along with the UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, have urged the Human Rights Council to ensure the following outcomes from the debate: (1) the creation of an international commission of inquiry to investigate systemic racism in law enforcement in the United States; and (2) the creation of a thematic international commission of inquiry to investigate systemic racism in law enforcement globally, with a focus on systemic racism rooted in legacies of colonialism and transatlantic slavery…UN-mandated commissions of inquiry are designed to respond to situations of serious violations of international human rights law. They establish facts, assess these facts in light of the applicable international human rights law, make recommendations, and can play a crucial role in promoting accountability for past violations and preventing of future ones. Why an international commission of inquiry for the United States? Because the systemic racism in law enforcement in the United States is a human rights crisis of existential proportions, and the domestic legal and policy regimes that ought to be relied upon to put an end to this crisis have never been able to do so. For Black people in the United States, the domestic legal system has utterly failed to acknowledge and confront the racial injustice and discrimination that is so deeply entrenched in law enforcement. An international commission of inquiry would be a valuable, and much needed complement to national and local efforts to undo racially discriminatory structures in US law enforcement. As an independent expert appointed by the Human Rights Council, it is an important part of my job to sound the alarm in the face of grave human rights violations. The situation in the United States has prompted myself and many others within the UN system to do exactly this. I issued a statement joined by 47 UN independent human rights experts condemning systemic racial injustice in the United States, and expressing grave concern at the divisive and racially charged responses of the President to anti-racism protests. We issued another, calling for an end to, and accountability for, what amounts to modern-day racial terror lynchings in the United States…In a telling move, the family members of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Philando Castile and Michael Brown have joined over six hundred human rights organizations in requesting a commission of inquiry for the situation in the United States.”
In February 2021, Achiume testified in front of the House Judiciary Committee on the subject of reparations for slavery, where she stated, “Popular conceptions of reparations are often fairly narrow, focusing only on financial compensation. But by contrast, the international system places emphasis on a more comprehensive approach, according to which financial compensation may certainly be necessary but not sufficient. Other required measures may include transforming the political, economic and social institutions; and mechanisms for disclosing truth and restoring dignity for those subject to racial subordination resulting from legacies of enslavement.”
Tendayi Achiume authored an article for Stanford Law Review in June 2019 entitled “Migration As Decolonization” in which she wrote, “The prevailing doctrine of state sovereignty under international law today is that it entails the right to exclude nonnationals, with only limited exceptions. Whatever the scope of these exceptions, so-called economic migrants—those whose movement is motivated primarily by a desire for a better life—are typically beyond them. Whereas international refugee law and international human rights law impose restrictions on states’ right to exclude nonnationals whose lives are endangered by the risk of certain forms of persecution in their countries of origin, no similar protections exist for economic migrants. International legal theorists have not fundamentally challenged this formulation of state sovereignty, which justifies the assertion of a largely unfettered right to exclude economic migrants. International legal theorists have not fundamentally challenged this formulation of state sovereignty, which justifies the assertion of a largely unfettered right to exclude economic migrants. This Article looks to the history and legacy of the European colonial project to challenge this status quo. It argues for a different theory of sovereignty that makes clear why, in fact, economic migrants of a certain kind have compelling claims to national admission and inclusion in countries that today unethically insist on a right to exclude them.”
Tendayi Achiume of Zambia said in October 2020, referring to President Donald Trump: “I think it’s absolutely the case that if you have the head of government speaking about groups in ways that stigmatizes them and associates them with the virus, it creates an environment where violence is more permissible and attacks are more permissible. It really does legitimize those kinds of acts…The head of government is essentially legitimizing a climate where certain groups are wrongfully associated with a virus that affects everybody equally. It’s really a serious problem from a human rights perspective.” Achiume said “the Trump administration has taken a very antagonistic stance with respect to the U.N. generally and the Human Rights Council.”
Achiume stated in an interview in May 2020 (emphasis added): “My first report to the General Assembly focused on the threat of ethnonationalist populism to racial equality. It highlighted the direct threat to racial, ethnic and religious minority communities, but it also highlighted the corrosive effect of ethnonationalist populism on the very pillars of liberal democracy. In many countries, the United States included, populist regimes are exploiting (and fueling) national anxieties about the pandemic, doubling down on demonization of racial, ethnic and religious minorities, while flouting or eliminating checks and balances on their power.…The dominant framing of the human rights responsibilities of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube has primarily been anchored in freedom of expression and privacy concerns. Equality and non-discrimination principles as they relate to racism, xenophobia and discrimination are typically secondary considerations added to a balance already weighted in favor of, or on the basis of, other values and commitments. In this pandemic, we are reaping the harvests of this approach. The spread of intolerance and disinformation online is costing lives, it’s shaping electoral outcomes, and in my upcoming July 2020 report to the Human Rights Council I map more broadly how the design and use of different emerging digital technologies result in individual and structural forms of racial discrimination.”
Achiume continued, “One thing that is clear in all this is that debates about content moderation and protected speech online cannot be the full extent of or primary site for human rights equality and non-discrimination concerns in engagement with social media firms…Under international law it is states that bear human rights obligations, but these obligations entail corporate regulation and corporate responsibility including in relation to combating racial discrimination and intolerance. Social media firms—and media firms more broadly—have human rights responsibilities to ensure at the very least that they are not complicit in propagating or fueling discrimination and intolerance…Given your readership—policymakers, legal academics and practitioners, and human rights advocates among others—I think it’s worth mentioning the need for greater and more substantive education in law school and elsewhere on racial and xenophobic discrimination as human rights problems subject to a comprehensive international human rights legal framework. A survey of the leading international human rights textbooks and courses would reveal neglect, and in some cases the absence of substantive engagement with the prohibition on racial discrimination in customary international law or under the comprehensive equality framework embodied in the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (ICERD). I recall during consultations with a group of minority university students in the Netherlands, one of their biggest complaints was the absence of substantive legal education on international human rights racial equality and non-discrimination norms, which they believed denied all graduating students exposure to vital human rights understanding of discrimination and intolerance, and concrete measures for challenging it. A similar critique would apply in the United States and many other places, and to human rights legal scholarship…Similarly, if public officials have no real understanding of the meaning and requirements of international human rights racial equality and non-discrimination principles, it’s less likely they can fully leverage the potential of these principles.”