UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres delivers a speech at the opening day of the 40th session of the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council on February 25, 2019 in Geneva. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP)

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday launched a new global strategy to combat hate speech, a growing scourge he said has poisoned debate on crucial challenges like migration.

Guterres announced the effort, which will be led by his special adviser on genocide prevention Adama Dieng, at the UN Human Rights Council.

He said in a speech at the opening of the council’s 40th session that hate is moving into the mainstream in liberal democracies and authoritarian systems alike.

Governments across the world have watched with concern as racist and other hate speech have coarsened the political climate.

France and Germany have raised particular alarm in recent weeks over resurgent anti-Semitism.

Guterres targeted his rebuke at the vast campaign he said was mobilised against the UN’s Global Compact on Migration, a non-binding text that aimed to set out best practices for managing refugee and migrant flows.

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