UNESCO launches first-ever policy guide on Holocaust education and genocide prevention

Shoah Memorial, International Dimensions of Holocaust Education. Photo: UNESCO

24 April 2017 – The United Nations educational and cultural agency has launched a first-ever policy guide for education on the Holocaust and, more broadly, genocide and mass atrocities.

“We place the fight against xenophobia, racism and anti-Semitism at the heart of our action for peace,” UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Director-General Irina Bokova told the 15th plenary assembly of the World Jewish Congress in New York yesterday as she launched the new guide.

Education about the Holocaust and preventing genocide is designed to be a resource for policy-makers, curriculum developers and textbook writers to engage in or reinforce education about the Holocaust and the prevention of genocide.

It also provides effective responses and recommendations to facilitate debate on these issues in classrooms, and is the first step in a series of projects conducted in partnership with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and with the support of the Canadian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“I am convinced education, culture and knowledge have become core security issues in the world today to combat violent extremism built on distortions of faith or history,” said Ms. Bokova.

Also in attendance at the plenary the previous evening was UN Secretary-General António Guterres, who said he would be on the frontlines in the fight against anti-Semitism to make sure it is condemned and eradicated.

According to his spokesman, Mr. Guterres said that while there is hope that the horrors and the shock of the Holocaust would put an end to antisemitism, unfortunately, it is not the case, and antisemitism is alive and well.

In a world with a multiplication of forms of populism, xenophobia and hatred, he said antisemitism has gained an intensity that is unacceptable and that we need to fight with strong determination.

Mr. Guterres added that a modern form of antisemitism is the denial of the right of the State of Israel to exist, noting that Israel has an undeniable right to exist and to live in peace and security with its neighbours. And he reiterated his support for the two-state solution.

The World Jewish Congress is an international organization representing Jewish communities and associations in 100 countries around the world. It has been UNESCO's official partner since 1962.


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