IHRA Chair addresses General Assembly

27.01.2016

On 27 January, IHRA Chair Szabolcs Takács addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York.

The theme of the commemoration was "The Holocaust and Human Dignity". The IHRA Chair stated that "it was with the Holocaust at the forefront of their minds, that the Drafting Committee of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights enshrined the inherent dignity of each human being in the very first line. They had recognised that at the root of all crimes against humanity, there is a disregard for the intrinsic value of a human being. Because after Auschwitz we saw racist slurs and dehumanizing language differently. Because before the Holocaust stole lives or livelihoods, it tried to corrode dignity."

Watch the video here.

He concluded by outlining that reflecting on the Holocaust could tell us many things of relevance to today's world: that discrimination, antisemitism and xenophobia are threats to civilization, the importance of protecting human rights and the early warning signs of genocide. The Chair also invited countries not already associated with the IHRA to become members.

Read the Chair's full address here.

The event was hosted by Ms. Cristina Gallach, Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information. Other invited speakers included United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon; H. E. Mr. Mogens Lykketoft, President of the seventieth session of the General Assembly; H.E. Mr. Danny Danon, Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations; H.E. Ms. Samantha Power, Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations and H.E. Mr. Felix Klein, Special Representative for relations with Jewish Organizations, issues relating to Anti-Semitism and Holocaust Remembrance and Head of the German IHRA delegation.  Ms. Barbara Winton opened a video tribute to her father, Sir Nicholas Winton, who rescued 669 children from the Holocaust on the Czech Kindertransport.    

Mrs. Beate Klarsfeld (Germany) was the keynote speaker. Personal testimony was delivered by Jewish Holocaust survivors Mrs. Marta Wise and Mr. Haim Roet, and by Mr. Zoni Weisz, a Sinto survivor. The Holocaust memorial prayers were recited by cantor Gideon Zelermyer who was accompanied by Shaar Hashomayim Synagogue Choir from Montreal (Canada). Roma musicians Antal Kopar (guitar) and Bela Horvath (violin) played during the ceremony. The event concluded with a performance by the United States Military Academy at West Point Jewish Chapel Choir.

On 28 January, the IHRA Chair spoke at an NGO briefing on the future of Holocaust edcuation. A number of IHRA delegates took part in the roundable, including Cecilie Banke of the Danish delegation to IHRA, Deborah Dwork of the United States delegation to IHRA, Jane Jacobs-Kimmelman of the Israeli delegation to IHRA and Kimberly Mann, who has long been involved with IHRA as the UN representative.