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Confronting hate and misinformation through ethical advertising: together we CAN

17:00 -18:30 (Bangkok time, GMT+7), 3 June 2021

Click HERE to access the recordings of the RBHR Forum on YouTube

Organised by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the Conscious Advertising Network (CAN) 




The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has in recent years partnered with the Conscious Advertising Network (CAN) to start a conversation with companies, civil society, governments and other stakeholders around rights-based and ethical advertising practices. Over $600 billion is spent on advertising globally every year, which provides much of the fuel for traditional and social media platforms. Over recent years, and increasingly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, concerns have arisen that xenophobia, racism, religious hatred, anti-migrant narratives, misinformation and other content inciting hatred against people has flourished on many of these platforms, as has the increase of business models that profit from spreading hatred and misinformation.

As is apparent in the Asia Pacific region and elsewhere around the world, there are real world consequences to such discourse, with particular impacts on groups and individuals in situations of vulnerability. The UN Secretary-General’s strategy and action plan on hate speech recognizes the role of media and business actors in this context. The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration further affirms the importance of ethical advertising in countering discrimination and hatred against migrants and calls for the promotion of evidence-based public discourse to shape perceptions of migration. There is increasing awareness at the national, regional and global levels that advertising is a business ethics issue and that advertisers, brands and others all have a vital role to play in tackling the “economics of hate”. A more conscious, rights-based approach by private sector and media actors is therefore key to effectively tackling the funding and spread of hate and misinformation, as well as to amplifying values-based messaging that can counter these damaging narratives.

Session Objectives

Spurred on by these calls to action, this session seeks to present a unique partnership between the UN, the private sector and civil society, and offers an opportunity for business, governments and civil society stakeholders in Asia and the Pacific to understand and apply human rights due diligence to the advertising industry. The session will seek to deliberate on the possibility of building a “big tent” to push back against hatred and misinformation while upholding human rights including ensuring freedom of expression.  In doing so, the session will explore how human rights standards provide both a framework for States considering regulatory options as well as guidance for companies in determining how to ensure that advertising is ethical and rights-based. In addition, the session will seek to unpack how businesses, particularly advertisers and media, can support human rights-based public narratives on migration, minorities and related societal issues.

Key Questions for the Session

  • What are some emerging good practices as well as lessons learnt on the links between human rights and ethical advertising in the context of intolerance, hatred and misinformation directed against migrants and other minorities in Asia and the Pacific? 

  • What are some tools that business actors can use when seeking to ensure that their advertising is ethical and human rights-based?

  • How can business build partnerships with media and civil society including community-based actors to address this issue?

Background Documents and Relevant Links

For questions, please contact unrbhrforum@undp.org