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UN Chief Vows World Body Efforts to Combat Hate Speech

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres signs the WTO's golden book prior to the U.N. Secretary-General addressing to Special Session of the WTO's General Council, in Geneva, Switzerland, May 10, 2019.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is pledging the world body will lead efforts to combat online hate speech in the aftermath of the deadly New Zealand mosque shootings.

Guterres made the vow Tuesday during a visit to the al-Noor and Linwood mosques in the city of Christchurch where 51 worshippers were massacred in a shooting spree on March 15 by a self-described white supremacist from Australia.

“I know there are no words to relieve the hurt and sorrow and pain,” the secretary-general said after his visit to the al-Noor mosque, “but I wanted to come here personally to transmit love, support, and total and complete admiration."

Warning that “hate speech is spreading like wildfire in social media,” Guterres said he has asked Adama Dieng, his special advisor for the prevention of genocide, to form a team to develop a global plan of action in response.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who received international praise for her response to the Christchurch massacre, is planning to co-host a global meeting in Paris this week to drum up support to combat online expression of violence.