(Re)Act for equal opportunities online and offline

Date: April 6, 2015 – April 13, 2015

Venue: Strasbourg

UNITED Study Session

You can have a look at the pdf.file of the report here: View the report


View the programme   List of participating organisations

At the European Youth Centre of the Council of Europe
The study session (Re)Act for equal opportunities online and offline was held at the European Youth Centre of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg from the 6th to 13th April 2015. The session aimed to train 35 young NGO representatives, willing to discuss, experience and participate in sessions on how to deal with discrimination and racism online, using the positive approach of human rights and non-formal education. It aimed to motivate and enable them to step in when they witness situations where racism, discrimination and hate speech are spread online.

“Hate speech” is understood as covering all forms of expression which spread, incite, promote or justify racial hatred, xenophobia, antisemitism or other forms of hatred based on intolerance, including: intolerance expressed by aggressive nationalism and ethnocentrism, discrimination and hostility against minorities, migrants and people of immigrant origin.

It was planned that after the study session, participants would:

–       have shared experiences and good practices of youth work in the online area related to Human Rights Education and access to Social Rights.

–       have further developed tools for action against discrimination in social media and have explored the risks of media spins which trigger actions in the offline space.

–       know how to recognise situations where racism, discrimination and hate speech are expressed online.

–       be equipped with a range of tools and be able to apply them to react to racism, discrimination and hate speech online.

The Study Session was to take an interactive approach, so participants would be encouraged to contribute their own experiences, expertise and ideas, bring along examples and good practices from their own countries and fields, and debate the use of possible interventions. The programme was to include: sharing experiences, examining case studies, identifying trends relating to racism in Europe, visiting relevant Council of Europe institutions, an overview of mechanisms to combat hate speech online, learning how to apply and use tools, and formulating concrete action plans for follow up.

Facilitators would use a combination of peer-to-peer learning, simulations, group discussions, exercises, debates and expert presentations to engage participants with the key issues. The study session also aimed to link with the lessons learned from the project “No Hate Speech: Young People Combating Hate Speech Online” of the Youth Department of the Council of Europe.

UNITED for Intercultural Action is the largest pan-European anti-racist network of more than 550 organisations. UNITED organises twice a year the UNITED network conferences, and regularly UNITED Study Sessions at a European Youth Centre. At these meetings antiracist and human rights activists from all over Europe meet and discuss effective ways of combating racism and discrimination. At a recent UNITED conference held in October 2015 in Georgia participants from 35 countries discussed the topic of Traditional Values and Fundamental Rights.

The knowledge, expertise, and input of the participant was invaluable. 38 participants worked on countering online and offline racism and discrimination.


Profile of participants

The profile of participants was highly diverse. Participants came from different backgrounds, with a vast rang of different experiences, origins, professions, and roles in their respective organisations. Overall, 21 different countries of residence were represented.

The original call for participants specified that the preferred profile of participants was young people who were active in antiracism, antifascism, refugee, human rights and minority rights organisations and grassroots activism. These may include, for example;

–       Leaders and representatives of youth organisations or groups working against racism, discrimination, hate speech and in online environments

–       Representatives of national and international organisations active for human rights

–       Youth workers and education professionals working against hate speech, racism, for human rights and with online technologies

–       Bloggers and online human rights activists

Priority would be given to nominations from young delegates (under 30 years old) who are able to demonstrate a genuine concern about hate speech (online) and interest in taking action after the study session.

There were approximately 150 participant nominations that met the intended profile. UNITED always tries to find good balance in gender, geography and backgrounds of participants at conferences and study sessions. The balance in geography and background was certainly met in the final participant list. At first, there was also a good participant selection in terms of gender balance, but due to cancellations coming primarily from men, the final gender balance changed a bit, and in the end the participant list was fairly female-heavy. This did not however, have any negative impact on the effectiveness of the study session, or range of experiences and viewpoints represented.


Key Issues and Background

The key issues of the study session were the problems of racism, discrimination, hate speech and hate crime, and strategies for dealing with these problems using the positive approach of human rights education and both online and offline campaigning. Within this framework, there were also in-depth discussions on human rights law and its application in the context of the Council of Europe.

The study session was organised against the background of the Council of Europe Youth Department’s “No Hate Speech: Young People Combating Hate Speech Online” campaign. This project, run between 2012 and 2014, aimed to combat online hate speech by working with young people and youth organisations to help them recognise and act against such human rights violations. The campaign did not aim to limit freedom of expression, nor to encourage everyone to be “nice” online – rather it was against hate speech in all its forms. The campaign focused on human rights education, youth participation and media literacy.


UNITED Study Session prepared by
• Centre for Intercultural Dialogue (MK)
• Associazione Trepuntozero (I)
• Movimiento Contra la Intolerancia (E)
• UNITED for Intercultural Action


 This event is made possible with the financial support of
• European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe

The information contained herein does not necessarily reflect the position nor the opinion of our sponsors.
Sponsors are not to be held responsible for any use that may be made of it.

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