conference: “Attacks on democracy and human rights”

On July 28 2021, The Balkan Forum, CIVIL and members of the Civil Society Platform for Democracy and Human Rights, held a regional conference titled “Attacks on democracy and human rights: Civil society organizations in support of Western Balkans societies facing disinformation, hate speech and hybrid attacks”.

Organised into two panel discussions, the conference tackled the issue of disinformation and how it disrupts the public discourse and encourages hate speech and insulting rhetoric, including the issue of hybrid attacks and their posing threats to democracies.

Prominent speakers shared their knowledge, opinions and expertise at the European, regional and national level on the most common types and sources of disinformation, hate speech and hybrid attacks. They shared their views on how institutions and societies are coping with these issues and best practices proven to be successful in dealing with these phenomena. Speakers included Dr. Wolfgang Ressmann, Managing Director of OK-TV Ludwigshafen, Germany, Abit Hoxha, from University of Adger in Norway, Nenad Šebek, a journalist and media expert, Amina Šurković, Amina Šemsović, Dr. Erjon Curraj, Jean Monnet Module Coordinator, Vladimir Gjorgjevski, representative of “Regional Youth Cooperation Office - RYCO”, Mersiha Smajlovikj, representative of “Legis”, Marion Kraske, political analyst, Bojan Kordalov, communicologist, Snezhana Trpveska, representative of RESIS, Xhabir Deralla, Director of CIVIL, and Astrit Istrefi, Executive Director of The Balkan Forum.

It was emphasized that disinformation, hate speech, and hybrid attacks remain elementary threats to critical thinking, freedom of media, and media literacy which are crucial for the integration and democratic development of the region.

A key conclusion of the conference was that in order to diminish threats to democracies all levels of the society should be doing their work including public institutions, civil society and media.