Message from Mr. Kiyo Akasaka,
Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information
UNIC seminar on Holocaust Awareness
and Genocide Prevention”
13 to 18 April 2008
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 improve our present and future.
This year the United Nations is celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was the first universal statement on the basic principles of inalienable human rights. This document continues to serve as the foundation of international human rights law and a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations.
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. This was a dark period in the history of our shared world, when millions of people’s human rights were dismissed and violated.
The United Nations appreciates this important partnership with the House of the Wannsee Conference Memorial and Educational Site and is grateful for the generous support of the German Foreign Office. The Secretary-General has declared our mandate to prevent genocide as one of our most sacred callings. This seminar will strengthen our staff around the world, enabling them to identify the causes and roots of genocide, and learn the lessons of the past to help prevent future acts of genocide.
During the week ahead, you will receive substantive insights from experts, educators and historians, and will discuss creative ways to communicate messages of tolerance. I encourage you to examine together the motives that led to the human tragedy of the Holocaust, and understand how and why its lessons are so important today. Consider how your work can contribute to outreach activities in your respective countries to 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 House of the Wannsee Conference Memorial and Educational Site 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.