The Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation (AIPR) marks January 27, 2016 as the 11th annual International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust. During its 42nd Plenary Session in 2005, the UN General Assembly established this date, the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz Death Camp, as the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust.
The Resolution (A/60/L.12) designating this date as the annual International Day, submitted by the state of Israel and co-sponsored by 104 UN Member States, was adopted unanimously. This prompted the then President of the General Assembly, Ambassador Jan Eliasson, to proclaim the Resolution “a unifying historic warning around which we must rally; not only to recall the grievous crimes committed in human history, but also to reaffirm our unfaltering resolve to prevent the recurrence of such crimes”.
The memory of the Holocaust is a powerful reminder of what can happen when we stop seeing our common humanity. On this day of Holocaust remembrance, I urge everyone to denounce political and religious ideologies that set people against people. Let us all speak out against anti-Semitism and attacks against religious, ethnic or other groups. Let us create a world where dignity is respected, diversity is celebrated, and peace is permanent.
The text of Resolution A/60 explicitly urges member states “to develop educational programmes that will inculcate future generations with the lessons of the Holocaust in order to help prevent future acts of genocide.” The Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation answers this vital call by conducting programs of education that work towards the construction of a world that will prevent genocide and other mass atrocities.
AIPR’s Raphael Lemkin Seminar for Genocide Prevention, held annually in both its Global and Latin American incarnations, employs the “power of place” to help alert government officials to the horrible reality of genocide, prompting many of the program’s alumni to define themselves as agents of prevention. Since its inception, the Global Lemkin Seminar has brought over 230 participants from more than 70 countries around the globe to Auschwitz-Birkenau.