The Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation (AIPR) observes January 27, 2018 as the 13th International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust. Designated to mark the anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1945, the United Nations General Assembly established this annual International Day for Commemoration in November of 2005 through General Assembly Resolution 60/7.
The 2018 observance, entitled “Holocaust Remembrance and Education: Our Shared Responsibility,” is dedicated to highlighting the universality of the lessons learned from the Holocaust and their role in the collective responsibility of the international community to end all forms of discrimination and prevent genocide and other mass atrocities. In remarks dedicated to the 2018 International Day of Commemoration, UN Secretary General António Guterres commented on the importance of continued reflection on these lessons and the necessity of incorporating them into vital practices and policies that prevent mass atrocities, saying that:
We are… seeing a deeply troubling rise in extremism, xenophobia, racism and anti-Muslim hatred. Irrationality and intolerance are back. This is in complete contrast to the universal values enshrined in the United Nations Charter and Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We can never remain silent or indifferent when human beings are suffering. We must always defend the vulnerable and bring tormentors to justice.
General Assembly Resolution 60/7, which establishes the annual observance on January 27, specifically urges UN member states to cultivate educational programs that pass on the vital lessons learned from the Holocaust to younger generations of our international community. Alongside the continuing fight against denialism, these lessons form an essential component of broader efforts to prevent future genocide. This is reflected in the emphasis placed on education within the Auschwitz Institute’s approach and its methodology for engagement with government officials, teachers, and other key actors around the world.
AIPR’s Raphael Lemkin Seminar for Genocide Prevention is held annually in both its Global and Latin American Network forms, having trained hundreds of government officials from around the world over the past decade. Organized in partnership with the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum and the UN’s Joint Office of the Special Advisers on the Prevention of Genocide and the Responsibility to Protect, the Raphael Lemkin Seminar series employs the “power of place” that exists at the former Nazi concentration camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau to teach officials about genocide and other mass atrocities, train them in the latest policies and practices for effective prevention, and help them to forge a personal commitment to the success of these efforts.