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Message from Mr. Kiyo Akasaka,
Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information
to the "Training seminar on Holocaust Awareness
and Genocide Prevention”
10 to 18 November 2007
Paris, France

I would like to extend my best wishes to all of you as you embark on your moving journey into the past – in order to help influence our present and future.

The United Nations must never forget that it was founded as a reaction to the brutality of the Second World War, or that the horrors of the Holocaust helped to shape its mission. That mandate is enshrined in our Charter and in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which came into being in this city fifty-nine years and a month ago. The memory and warning of the Holocaust are universal, and this was affirmed by the United Nations General Assembly when it unanimously decided, two years ago, to commemorate Holocaust Remembrance Day each year and to establish the outreach programme within whose mandate this Seminar is being held.

We are grateful to Le Mémorial de la Shoah for this opportunity to examine together the motives that led to the human tragedy of the Holocaust, and to understand how and why its lessons are so vital to our times as we work to try and ensure that this terrible period in our history does not recur. During the week ahead, you will receive substantive insights from scholars, educators and historians at the Museum, and will discuss creative ways to communicate messages of tolerance.  I encourage you to ask questions, bring in your own awareness and expertise, and reflect on ways in which you can enhance outreach activities in your respective countries in the areas of Holocaust remembrance, the promotion and protection of human rights, and the prevention of genocide.

One of the Department of Public Information’s goals is greater integration of the network of UN Information Centres in our communications strategies.  Seminars like this one, in partnership with world-renowned institutions, help us to achieve this goal.

I thank the inspired staff of Le Mémorial de la Shoah for their continuing support of the Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme. I am delighted that our partnership has expanded to reach our valued colleagues in the field.

I wish you all a productive and inspiring week.

Press Release - 26 October 2007