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  • 1 Ruhr-University Bochum Institute for International Law of Peace and Armed Conflict D-44801 Bochum Universitätsstraße 150 Germany
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The prohibition of “advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred” by modern international law demonstrates more than any other provision concerning mass media a response effected by the horrors of National Socialism. It is primarily conceived of a special duty by States to take preventive measures to enforce the principle of non-discrimination and the right to life. This provision seems nowadays of special importance all over Europe. After the revolutions in former communist countries in the 1990s the democratic governments and movements are searching for new approaches to guarantee individual freedom, peace and social justice. Freedom of expression plays a decisive role in these conditions. People have eagerly embraced this freedom, so long withheld from them, and are using it to express their democratic aspirations. At the same time, this newly won freedom of expression has being misused to disseminate fascism and racial hatred. In the Balkans terrible crimes against humanity were committed. “Ethnic cleansing” was one of the results of this misuse of the freedom of expression. But also in post WW II democracies-like in Germany-one can find books and papers with racist und neo-fascist propaganda, sometime distributed by international networks. The attempt of the German government to prohibit the right-wing “National Party of Germany” (NPD) shows that the politics try to undertake some action against neo-fascist activities and propaganda. This paper examines the legal basis for international prohibitions against media content advocating war, racism and fascism and shows the ways in which democratic countries have handled (or failed to handle) this thorny issue.