Submission to the UN Special Rapporteur

Published on Tue Mar 02 2021 - modified on Wed Mar 03 2021

The ELSC has welcomed the opportunity to make a submission to the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Irene Khan, for her 2021 Human Rights Council report.

This year annual thematic report, to be presented to the Human Rights Council at its 47th session in June 2021, is focusing on disinformation and the human rights impacts of measures which different stakeholders – from states to online platforms and others – take to combat disinformation.

Since early 2019, ELSC has been closely monitoring violations of the right to freedom of expression for advocates of Palestinian rights in several EU countries and compile a database of incidents, case law and legal materials.

The submission responds to question 1 of the submission guide: “What do you believe are the key challenges raised by disinformation? What measures would you recommend to address them?

In the first section, we argue that the campaign led by the Israeli government and several politically motivated Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) to label the Boycott, Divestment, Sanction movement (BDS) and its supporters as inherently antisemitic amounts to disinformation.

In the second section, we show that this campaign resulted in the adoption of non-legally binding motions in Germany and Austria, at both national and regional level, designating the BDS as antisemitic.

The third section describes the negative impact of these anti-BDS motions on the exercise of the right to freedom of expression and assembly of BDS activists and individuals and civil society organisations advocating for Palestinian rights in Europe.

Demonstrating that these motions have a significant chilling effect that results in the worrisome partial erasure of Palestine from the domain of legitimate public debate, we recommend the Special Rapporteur to:

  1. Issue a statement recognizing that the campaign stigmatizing the BDS movement as antisemitic amounts to disinformation;
  2. Address a second official letter of concern to the German and Austrian authorities about the implementations of the anti BDS motions.

Read the full submission.

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