On 15 March 2019 a terrorist attacked two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, killing 51 people and injuring 50. The horrific event was livestreamed by the terrorist for 17 minutes, and was viewed over 4,000 times before being removed.
This terrorist attack made clear once again the harms that can be caused by terrorist and violent extremist content online. It highlighted an issue that transcends borders and platforms, and it required a global solution. It was the catalyst for global action.
On 15 May 2019, two months to the day after the attack, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and French President Emmanuel Macron brought together Heads of State and Government and leaders from the technology sector to adopt the Christchurch Call.
“We owe it to those affected by the attacks in Christchurch, and other attacks in cities and towns around the world where terrorism and violent extremism have struck, to undertake this work.” Prime Minister Ardern, May 2019.
The Christchurch Call is a commitment by Governments and online service providers to eliminate terrorist and violent extremist content online. It rests on the conviction that a free, open and secure internet offers extraordinary benefits to society. Respect for freedom of expression is fundamental. However, no one has the right to create and share terrorist and violent extremist content online.
“We need to build this new cyberspace, a free, open and secure Internet, which allows everyone to share, learn, innovate, but which also allows us to uphold our values, protect our citizen and empower them." President Macron, May 2019.
The support shown in Paris for the Christchurch Call on 15 May 2019 was just the first step. Since then, other countries and online service providers have joined the Christchurch Call. Along with civil society organisations and other partners, they form an active community that works together to eliminate terrorist and violent extremist content online.