Brooklyn Journal of International Law


Rebecca Meyer

First Page



The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) recognizes that although the right to freedom of expression is essential, it is not absolute. The ICCPR prohibits speech that incites to discrimination, hostility, or violence. The provision prohibiting such speech is important to protect individuals and communities. Yet, not all countries are adequately enforcing its mandate. Such countries are letting inciting speech spread and, in some instances, violence has ensued. Conversely, some countries are taking enforcement too far, using the criminalization of inciting speech as a tool to silence political dissent. In light of the divergent interpretations—each problematic in its own right—a universal standard is needed to effectuate the purpose of the provision prohibiting incitement.