The IHRA consists of representatives of governments. Delegations are chaired by Ambassadors or officials of a senior rank. Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) are part of the delegations as experts. Experts are nominated by their country to serve on their national delegation to the IHRA.
The IHRA welcomes new member countries, on the basis of their adherence to the Stockholm Declaration on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research of January 28, 2000 and the 2020 IHRA Ministerial Declaration.
Acceptance into the IHRA is a process, and these are its stages:
- When a government of any UN member country expresses an interest in working with and/or within the IHRA, it will submit an official letter of application, signed by a senior governmental representative (generally either the Minister of Foreign Affairs or the Minister of Education). It will also complete a survey on the state of Holocaust education, remembrance, and research in the country, which will be submitted to the IHRA Permanent Office at least eight weeks before the Plenary meeting at which the interested government seeks admission as an Observer. It will then be accepted as an Observer Country, subject to approval by the Plenary, and will participate as such in the Working Groups and the Plenary.
- The IHRA will only accept countries commonly seen as democracies (i.e. not countries with authoritarian, dictatorial, or totalitarian regimes) to full membership. However, other countries may be encouraged to develop projects in cooperation with the IHRA, or agree to such projects with local NGOs.
- Observer (and Liaison) Countries affiliated with the IHRA for more than three years will pay an annual obligatory contribution of EUR 10,000 to the IHRA Fund.
- Observer (and Liaison) Countries commit themselves to attending the IHRA Plenary meetings (Plenary Sessions and Working Group and Committee meetings).
- When an interested government expresses its wish to advance its status beyond that of an Observer, it applies for its country to become a Liaison Country. To that effect, the interested government must submit the completed Liaison Projects - Baseline Study form to the Chair of the IHRA. The Liaison Projects - Baseline Study is circulated to the members of the IHRA over the general listserv at least six weeks before the plenary meeting at which the interested government seeks admission as a Liaison. The new Liaison Country will designate one or more IHRA countries with experience in IHRA work to establish liaison programs with the new candidate, provided the "lead" country or countries agree(s), and subject to approval by the Plenary. The minimum mandatory period for liaison status is one year.
- Liaison programs will include, as a minimum, two multilateral (i.e. involving more than one IHRA member country) in depth teacher-training courses, with government commitment. As is customary with IHRA projects organized by the Education Working Group, observers from IHRA countries will attend, and evaluations of the seminars will be made to the Education Working Group, which in turn will report to the Chair. The seminars will be concentrated around a core of Holocaust topics.
- A Holocaust Memorial Day (on January 27, or another date chosen by the applicant country), will be established.
- The government of the candidate country should demonstrate clear public policy commitment to Holocaust education at a senior political level. This will mean appropriate involvement of relevant government departments.
- The Chair will visit the candidate country at least once during its period of candidacy, and will receive copies of relevant correspondence of the different Working Groups with the relevant institutions of the candidate country. The Chair may disseminate reports about the activities in the candidate country over the general IHRA listserv.
- The new applicant country will satisfy the IHRA that its archives dealing with the Holocaust period (1933-1950) are open for research, and that there is or will be academic, educational, and public examination of the country's historical past as related to the Holocaust period.
- The applicant country will commit itself to pay a yearly contribution to the IHRA Fund of EUR 30,000.
- The applicant country will endorse the previous decisions of the IHRA.
- The applicant country will commit itself to contribute to the operational activities of the IHRA.
- The applicant country will commit itself to the IHRA's three Working Groups, sending two delegates to the Education Working Group, one to the Academic Working Group, and one to the Memorials and Museums Working Group.
- Upon fulfillment of these conditions, the government of the candidate country will submit the completed Membership Application - Baseline Study form, at least four months before the Plenary at which it seeks admission. The Chair will designate a subcommittee of three member states, each of whom will be represented by a governmental delegate and by an NGO member (i.e. - six persons), who will review the application in depth. The subcommittee will invite and take into account comments by other delegations.
The following procedures will be adhered to with every future application:
- There will be a formal presentation of up to 20 minutes by the delegation of the applying government in the Plenary at which admission is sought.
- Up to 45 minutes will be set aside for questions and/or comments of concern, and answers to these by the applying delegation.
- Up to 45 minutes will be devoted to internal discussion by IHRA members, with the applicant delegation absent. Consensus on the application between the IHRA delegations will be sought. If no consensus is reached, or if the consensus is negative regarding the application, the applying government will be so informed immediately, and may be offered a continuation of the liaison relationship.
- Once a government/country is accepted, it immediately becomes an equal partner in all IHRA bodies and Working Groups.