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2008 International Day of commemoration in memory
of the victims of the Holocaust

Statements

Secretary-General's message for the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust, to be observed on 27 January:

Today, we mark the third International Day in memory of the victims of the Holocaust.  On this day of observance, unanimously proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly, we stand in solidarity with Holocaust survivors and victims’ families around the world.  To those who claim that the Holocaust never happened, or has been exaggerated, we respond by reiterating our determination to honour the memory of every innocent man, woman and child murdered at the hands of the Nazis and their accomplices.  We mourn the systematic genocide of one third of the Jewish people, along with members of other minorities, which deprived the world of untold contributions.

But it is not enough to remember, honour and grieve for the dead.  As we do, we must also educate, nurture and care for the living.  We must foster in our children a sense of responsibility, so that they can build societies that protect and promote the rights of all citizens.  We must instil in them a respect for diversity before intolerance has a chance to take root, and a sense of vigilance in case it threatens to do so.  We must give them the courage and tools they need to make the right choices and to act in the face of evil.

This year gives us a special opportunity to do that, as we commemorate the sixtieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  Throughout this anniversary year, the United Nations will strive to bring the concept of “Dignity and Justice for All” to people everywhere.  The campaign reminds us that, in a world still reeling from the horrors of the Holocaust, the Universal Declaration was the first global statement of what many now take for granted: the inherent dignity and equality of all human beings.

Let us never take our human rights for granted.  Let us uphold them, protect them, defend them, ensure that they are a living reality -- that they are known, understood and enjoyed by everyone, everywhere.  It is often those who most need their human rights protected who also need to be informed that the Declaration exists, and that it exists for them.

Today, we remind people everywhere of those rights.  We remember those whose rights were brutally desecrated at Auschwitz and elsewhere, and in genocides and atrocities since.  We vow to apply the lessons of the Holocaust to our lives and to those of succeeding generations.  On this International Day of Commemoration, let us rededicate ourselves to this mission.