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Political Salon with Susan Benesch: Dangerous Speech in Kenya - Warning and Responses

Tuesday, May 10, 2011 - 6:30pm

World Policy Institute and Idealist present:

Dangerous Speech in Kenya: Warnings and Responses
A Political Salon with Susan Benesch

May 10, 2011
This event is by invitation only.

With special thanks to the Heinrich Böll Foundation for supporting the Political Salon.

Inflammatory public speech often precedes mass atrocities, especially genocide, and such speech is part of the social process that makes such human catastrophes possible, as demonstrated by many cases including Nazi Germany, Rwanda and Bosnia in the early 1990s, Kenya in 2008, and Libya and Cote d’Ivoire this year. In Kenya, for example, some 1,200 people were killed and about 500,000 others were displaced in early 2008, in the aftermath of suspect election results. The violence was incited by speech broadcast over local radio stations and spread in the form of SMS text messages. There are signs that this might resume in Kenya, during or after elections in 2012.

World Policy Institute Senior Fellow Susan Benesch is working with Kenyan and international leaders in government, media, human rights and other sectors to prevent this from happening. In this Political Salon, she discusses new research on dangerous speech, including innovative efforts to both prevent harm and protect free speech.

This Political Salon will be on the record.

Related readings - World Policy Institute on dangerous speech:

About the Speaker:

Susan Benesch is the Project Director for WPI’s "Dangerous Speech on the Road to Genocide,” an 18-month project which began in February 2010. Principally funded by the MacArthur Foundation, the project will identify policy responses to inflammatory speech. In collaboration with Dr. Francis Deng, the UN Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide, Benesch is working to refine international law on dangerous speech, and to identify the best policy options for limiting the violent effects of such speech.

Benesch also teaches advanced international human rights at American University's School of International Service. She has taught human rights and refugee law at Georgetown and Princeton, among other universities, and has lectured at schools including Yale, Duke, Johns Hopkins, Virginia, and Humboldt University in Berlin. A human rights lawyer trained at Yale, she has also worked for the Center for Justice and Accountability, Amnesty International, and the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights (now Human Rights First).

About the Sponsors

The Political Salon - organized by Steve Sokol since 2003 to promote dialogue among the next generation of leaders in business, policy, and the media - regularly convenes a diverse group of young professionals to discuss a range of foreign policy issues and global affairs. Attendees are diverse in terms of nationality, profession, and political persuasion.

Idealist is a project of Action Without Borders, a nonprofit organization founded in 1995 with offices in the United States and Argentina. Idealist is an interactive site where people and organizations can exchange resources and ideas, locate opportunities and supporters, and take steps towa0rd building a world where all people can lead free and dignified lives.

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