FRA and UNHCR to close IHRA Conference



BERLIN, February 7, 2017 - Professor Michael O'Flaherty, Director of the European Union Fundamental Rights Agency, and Mr. Stephane Jaquemet, Regional Representative for Southern Europe of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), are confirmed to close the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) conference in cooperation with the Holy See on refugee policies from 1933 to the present day, to be held in Rome from 16-17 February 2017.

Michael O'Flaherty commented: “The Europe Union is a community of values that is under threat, not least due to our failure to respond to the migration crisis with compassion, generosity and wisdom. Our societies struggle to identify actions that are adequate to the task and that are respectful of the rights of all concerned. I welcome this conference as an opportunity to learn from and build on the past as well as to galvanise attention to the scale of the challenge and the need for principled and just responses.”

Mr Jaquemet said: “Today, we have the largest number of refugees and displaced persons since World War II. Xenophobia and anti-migrant/refugee rhetoric have now become almost mainstream, with several political parties endorsing it or at least not condemning it. My hope is that this conference will help change the dangerous narrative. We are on a very slippery path, where the foundations of our human rights and refugee protection architecture are being ever eroded. We need a vibrant civil society, responsible academics and politicians to preserve the very principles on which the international community was built immediately after World War II.”

Michael O’Flaherty is FRA’s current Director. Previously, he was Professor of Human Rights Law and Director of the Irish Centre for Human Rights at the National University of Ireland, Galway. He has also been the Chief Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission. In addition, he has held a number of senior UN posts in the field, supported UN headquarters in various human rights programmes, been a Vice-Chairperson of the UN Human Rights Committee and has sat on the advisory boards of numerous human rights groups and journals internationally. His recent publications include volumes on the law and practice of human rights field operations, the professionalization of human rights field work and human rights diplomacy.

Mr. Stephane Jaquemet was appointed Regional Representative for Southern Europe of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) as of April 2016. Mr. Jaquemet has been working with UNHCR for 24 years, starting in 1992 in Croatia as Head of Operations. He continued his career in Togo serving as Head of Emergency Operations and then as Senior Protection Officer. From 1997 to 2002, he held a number of senior positions in the Division of International Protection at UNHCR Headquarters in Geneva. In 2002, Mr. Jaquemet moved to Indonesia and took the position of Deputy Regional
Representative. In 2005, he was appointed as Representative and successfully served as such in Lebanon, Nepal, Burkina Faso and Colombia. Mr. Jaquemet is a Swiss national and studied law at Lausanne University and was called to the Swiss Bar in 1981. He then successfully completed his master's degree in criminology at the University of Paris.

The conference is aimed at public policy-makers from Europe, North America and the Middle East, media representatives and representatives of NGOs and civil society organizations. At a time when the current situation of refugees in Europe and the Middle East continues to dominate the news and the political arena, this conference brings together experts in Holocaust history and contemporary policy-makers to reflect on the past with a view to concretely informing positive, ethically responsible, and rational policy-making today. The outcome of the conference will be a concrete set of recommendations for international policy-makers.

The draft programme and further information on speakers is available on the website of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.

You can register to attend the conference by going to the EventBrite page.

The conference "Refugee Policies from 1933 until Today:  Challenges and Responsibilities" is organized by Advisor to the IHRA, Professor Steven Katz, Co-Head of the Austrian Delegation to the IHRA, Ambassador Michael Baier, Dr Robert Williams, Deputy Director of International Affairs at United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (US Delegation to the IHRA) and Dr Veerle Vanden Daelen, adjunct general director and curator of Kazerne Dossin (Belgian Delegation to the IHRA). The conference hashtag will be #seekingprotection.

The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance unites governments and experts to shape and advance Holocaust education, remembrance and research world-wide, to speak out on Holocaust related issues including antisemitism, and to uphold the commitments of the 2000 Stockholm Declaration. The IHRA has 31 Member Countrieseleven Observer Countries, and seven international partner organisations.

All journalists and media organizations wishing to apply for accreditation may request TEMPORARY accreditation through the online form available on the Accreditation Section of Holy See Press Office website.

Journalists and media organizations regularly accredited at the Holy See Press Office may send their request through the usual channels.

All requests must be sent no less than 48 hours before the event.

Contact: Laura Robertson / IHRA Media Contact:
Tel +49 (0)30 2639 666 - 11