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United Nations and Yad Vashem to hold International Forum on Holocaust Awareness and Genocide Prevention

30 October 2007

Particpants of the Yad Vashem and UN seminar for UN Information Officers listen to Richelle Budd Caplan, Director, International Relations, the International School for Holocaust Studies, at Yad Vashem. (photo: Hillel Solomon/Yad Vashem) Particpants of the Yad Vashem and UN seminar for UN Information Officers listen to Richelle Budd Caplan, Director, International Relations, the International School for Holocaust Studies, at Yad Vashem. (photo: Hillel Solomon/Yad Vashem)

The United Nations Department of Public Informations Holocaust Outreach Programme will partner with Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs and Heroes Remembrance Authority, to provide training to United Nations information officers on the history of the Holocaust and its relevance today. This International Forum on Holocaust Awareness and Genocide Prevention, will be held from 27 October to 1 November 2007 at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, Israel.

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 response is enshrined in our Charter, and in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We are grateful to Yad Vashem 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 important today, said Kiyo Akasaka, Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information.

Led by Yad Vashems International School for Holocaust Studies, the forum will outline the circumstances that led to the Holocaust and examine the individual and collective responsibility in preventing genocide. The participants will include information officers from the global network of United Nations Information Centres located in: Ankara, Baku, Bangkok, Bucharest, Kiev, Manila, Minsk, Moscow, Pretoria, Tbilisi, Tokyo and Yerevan.

I am very pleased to welcome the UN information officers to Yad Vashem for this seminar. The Holocaust, while targeting Jews, has universal significance for the community of nations. It represents a time when the values that underpin our joint civilization collapsed, and forces us to contend with how such an event was possible. While interest in the Holocaust continues to grow, misinformation, whether deliberate or out of ignorance, is increasingly problematic. This seminar with the UN will help ensure that the information officers have the tools and knowledge to disseminate accurate information in a relevant and effective manner, said Avner Shalev, Chairman of Yad Vashem.

The Holocaust and United Nations Outreach Programme, mandated by General Assembly resolution 60/7, was established in 2006 to warn against the dangers of hatred, bigotry, prejudice and racism, in order to help prevent future acts of genocide. It has since developed a series of discussion papers on genocide drafted by scholars from around the world, and has created the Electronic Notes for Speakers, an online pedagogical tool for educators.

More information on the Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programmes seminars, film screenings and special events can be obtained at www.un.org/holocaustremembrance or by contacting Kimberly Mann, Chief, Advocacy Unit, Outreach Division at (212) 963-6835; mann@un.org

Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs and Heroes Remembrance Authority, was created by the Israeli Parliament in 1953. Located in Jerusalem, it is dedicated to Holocaust remembrance, documentation, research and education. Yad Vashems International School for Holocaust Studies is responsible for Holocaust education in Israel and beyond. More information can be found at www.yadvashem.org or by contacting Estee Yaari, Foreign Media Liaison, at 972-2-644-3412 and estee.yaari@yadvashem.org.il.