The Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme

The Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach ProgrammeOutreach Division, United Nations Department of Public Information

The Programme

On 1 November 2005, the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution 60/7 [ [http://www.un.org/holocaustremembrance/docs/res607.shtml UN res 60/7] ] designating 27 January as an annual International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust [ [http://www.un.org/holocaustremembrance/2007/ The 2007 Commemoration] ] [ [http://www.un.org/holocaustremembrance/annual08.shtml The 2008 Commemoration] ] . The Day is observed in the General Assembly Hall with a memorial ceremony and an annual lecture.

The General Assembly also requested that the Secretary-General establish a programme of outreach on the subject of the “Holocaust and the United Nations” to mobilize civil society for Holocaust remembrance and education, to help prevent future acts of genocide. Its theme "Remembrance and Beyond" serves to highlight and connect the main two elements of the Programme - remembering the victims of the Holocaust and helping to prevent future acts of genocide.

Since its establishment in January 2006, the Outreach Programme has partnered with civil society groups, various institutions and experts in the field of Holocaust and genocide studies.The Outreach Programme includes: seminars for United Nations Information Officers, discussion papers drafted by scholars from around the world, briefings, film screenings and on-line information products for educators. The Outreach Programme is also a permanent observer to the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research [ [http://www.un.org/holocaustremembrance/taskforce.shtml The Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme ] ] [ [http://www.holocausttaskforce.org/ The Task Force Website] ] .

Educational materials

The Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme supports the development of educational curricula by Member States on the lessons of the Holocaust in a number of ways.

It developed the “Electronic Notes for Speakers” project [ [http://www1.yadvashem.org/education/january_27/2007/index.htm The Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Program ] ] , together with Yad Vashem, The Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority [ [http://www.yadvashem.org/ Yad Vashem website] ] , the University of Southern California Shoah Foundation for Visual History and Education [ [http://college.usc.edu/vhi/ The Foundation website] ] , Le Mémorial de la Shoah [ [http://www.memorialdelashoah.org/ The Memorial website] ] and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) [ [http://www.ushmm.org/ USHMM Website] ] . These online pedagogical tools, available in English, French and Spanish provide concise, detailed information on the history and human experience of the Holocaust and have been praised by educators. The discussion papers [ [http://www.un.org/holocaustremembrance/docs.shtml The Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme ] ] , which have been drafted by Holocaust and genocide scholars and experts from Australia, China, France, Ghana, Israel, Sudan and the United States, are used in the classroom to stimulate study of the causes of genocide and encourage debate on preventive action.

The Holocaust Programme’s website also contains a number of other information resources on Holocaust remembrance and webcasts of all its events.

In addition, the Outreach Programme disseminates educational materials to United Nations information centres [ [http://www.un.org/aroundworld/unics/english/directory/html UNICs Directory official website] ] , for use in their libraries and to share with educators and civil society groups in their countries.

Briefings and Roundtables

The Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme has organized four seminars [ [http://www.un.org/holocaustremembrance/briefings.shtml briefings] ] to date on the topic of Holocaust awareness and genocide prevention, at United Nations Headquarters, attended by Member States, non-governmental organizations, students, educators and United Nations staff members.

1) The first took place on 12 May 2006 [ [http://www.un.org/webcast/2006b.html 2006 webcast] ] , organized with USHMM, Yad Vashem, Levande Historia [ [http://www.levandehistoria.se/ Levande Historia Website] ] and the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) [ [http://www.osce.org/odihr/ The OSCE website] ] . The seminar examined communication tools and educational resources on issues related to the Holocaust and genocide studies.

2) The Deputy Permanent Representative of Sierra Leone, the former Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict, the New York Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the Executive Director of the Institute for the study of genocide in New York, joined the Chair of the Secretary-General’s Advisory Committee on Genocide Prevention in a seminar held on 14 September 2006 [ [http://www.un.org/webcast/2006c.html 2006 cause of genocide webcast] ] , which explored the causes of genocide and the role of the United Nations in helping to prevent it.

3) The third seminar, on “Combating Hatred” with the participation of the Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide, was held on 8 November 2007 [ [http://www.un.org/webcast/2007.html 2007 webcast] ] the eve of the anniversary of the Kristallnacht Pogrom. The roundtable discussion featured speakers from civil society who shared best practices to overcome hatred, prejudice and intolerance in society.

4) The latest seminar, “Saving Succeeding Generations”, was held on 26 June 2008 [ [http://www.un.org/webcast/2008.html 2008 webcast] ] in collaboration with the United Nations University New York Office. The keynote remarks were delivered by Mr. Edward C. Luck, Special Adviser to the United Nations Secretary-General; Yad Vashem presented cases of rescue during the Holocaust and USHMM demonstrated the Google Earth Satellite imagery used in its campaign against mass violence [ [http://www.ushmm.org/maps/ Mapping initiatives by USHMM ] ] [ [http://www.youtube.com/user/ushmm USHMM Channel on Youtube ] ] . The briefing engaged the audience in a discussion on our individual and collective responsibility to protect those threatened by genocide and other crimes against humanity. Practices and communications tools in the campaign against mass violence were also examined.

Partnerships

The Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme also collaborates with local partners to identify ways to engage contemporary society in learning from the lessons of the Holocaust. In October, the Outreach Programme collaborates with the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust [ [http://www.mjhnyc.org/index.htm Website of the Museum] ] , to co-sponsor a concert for Daniel Pearl Music Days. The music days unite thousands of musicians from over 60 countries to use the universal language of music to help spread a message of respect for diversity and solidarity.

In 2007 and 2008, the Outreach Programme partnered with Holocaust institutions to organize four week-long regional seminars [ [http://www.un.org/holocaustremembrance/unics.shtml The Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme ] ] , designed to enhance the knowledge and skills of local level staff at the United Nations information centres worldwide in the areas of Holocaust remembrance, human rights and the prevention of genocide. Holocaust and human rights experts presented an overview of the evolution of antisemitism and other forms of intolerance. They also examined the impact of the Holocaust and World War II, resulting in the founding of the United Nations and the creation of international legal norms designed to prevent and punish crimes against humanity and genocide. The purpose of these seminars is to better equip the information officers in the field to raise public awareness about the Holocaust and its relevance today, and apply the principles they learn to outreach activities that promote tolerance and human rights. Seminars were held in May 2007, at USHMM in Washington D.C., in October 2007, at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, in November 2007, at Le Mémorial de la Shoah in Paris and in April 2008 at the House of the Wannsee Conference Memorial and Educational Site in Berlin.

Exhibits

In 2008, the Outreach Programme unveiled a permanent exhibit on the “Holocaust and the United Nations” at United Nations Headquarters [ [http://www.un.org/events/UNART/Calendar2008.htm#January Details on United Nations Exhibit Website] ] [ [http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2008/note6124.doc.htm Press Release] ] . The exhibit, developed with the assistance of Holocaust scholars, presents an overview of the Holocaust in the context of World War II and the founding of the United Nations. It will be seen by the 400,000 visitors who visit United Nations Headquarters annually.

Looking Forward

Looking forward, the Outreach Programme is planning to observe the 70th anniversary of the Kristallnacht Pogrom with its annual seminar in November 2008, focusing on the actions that led to the violence against and imprisonment of Jews throughout the Third Reich. In addition, the Outreach Programme will publish a consolidated journal from its discussion paper series in English and French this year.

Additional Information

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References


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