Together for Impact at the Gothenburg Plenary
GOTHENBURG, 01.12.2022 – The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) has successfully concluded its second and final Plenary Meetings under the Swedish Presidency, which took place over four days in the city of Gothenburg. The meetings, attended by experts, political representatives, and representatives of international organizations and civil society, inspired exchanges and developments in the field of Holocaust remembrance, education, and research under the Swedish Presidency’s motto, “Together for Impact.”
The Swedish Minister for Culture, Parisa Liljestrand, addressed the Plenary, highlighting the importance of the IHRA’s collaborative work and stating that, “Working together is the best way to promote human rights and democracy.”
The sad reality of the passing of the survivor generation and its impact on Holocaust remembrance echoed throughout the four-day meetings, with IHRA Chair Ambassador Ann Bernes noting in her welcoming address, “In an era where more and more survivors leave us, the mandate and work of the IHRA is more important than ever and I am confident in our ability to jointly rise to the challenge.”
IHRA Honorary Chair, Professor Yehuda Bauer, addressed the Plenary, warning of the rising tide of dangerous nationalism and reminding Member Countries that, “We are not living in a post-Holocaust world, we are living in a world where the Holocaust is possible.”
The Swedish Presidency followed up on the pledges made in October 2021 at the Malmö International Forum on Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Antisemitism Remember – ReAct. The IHRA Chair noted the impressive and inspiring action taken so far, with 17 delegations already completing their pledges, 30 having partially completed theirs and more delegations’ pending follow-up reports expected to show even more progress. IHRA Members Countries agreed to use the IHRA’s platform for continued exchange on the pledges until 2024 and to continuously explore whether the pledges might lead to the identification of good practices for broader use.
One such, already identified example, in the form of Recommendations to empower teacher training institutes to counter Holocaust distortion and antisemitism were endorsed by Member Countries during the Plenary Session. The development of these recommendations was one of Austria’s Malmö Forum pledges and was partly funded via the IHRA Grant program. The endorsement was applauded as an important step forward in promoting and supporting the strengthening of Holocaust education as well as countering antisemitism and Holocaust distortion.
On the topic of safeguarding the record of the Holocaust, Dr. Gilly Carr presented the findings of the Safeguarding Sites project and encouraged Member Countries to adopt the IHRA Charter for Best Practice at the end of 2023.
In light of the situation in Ukraine, the IHRA Chair informed the Alliance about expert-informed steps taken since the Stockholm Plenary Meetings, including the initiation of a dialogue with key actors in Ukraine and the raising of awareness of the situation of Roma Ukrainians fleeing the aggression. IHRA Member Countries agreed to follow this up by taking more expert-informed steps and agreeing on measures meant to provide Ukraine with support, in taking their Malmö Forum pledges on Holocaust education, remembrance and research, forward. The IHRA’s support will include the expansion of the #ProtectTheFacts campaign to include Ukrainian stakeholders and civil society, thereby making it possible to support Ukraine in safeguarding the record of the Holocaust and countering Holocaust distortion.
Developments on the Global Task Force Against Holocaust Distortion were addressed and the IHRA Chair announced that OSCE/ODIHR will be joining the IHRA, the United Nations, UNESCO and the European Commission as a partner in the #ProtectTheFacts campaign. This new partnership will, along with continued work on the IHRA’s and UNESCO’s joint Malmö Forum pledge on developing training programs to counter distortion, further strengthen the Task Force’s efforts to counter Holocaust distortion on a global scale.
The Swedish Presidency presented the key takeaways from its International Conference on the Genocide of the Roma, which brought together leading experts in the field, including many IHRA representatives, and key members of Roma civil society organizations. The conference provided a space for shared knowledge on the topic and took stock of existing research in the field while exploring existing obstacles, needs, and gaps. The conference also pointed to several ways in which the IHRA could take its work in the field forward, including by completing its forthcoming Recommendations on Teaching and Learning about the Genocide of the Roma, and by doing so in close dialogue and collaboration with Roma representatives. The IHRA Chair took the opportunity to encourage Member Countries to translate the working definition of antigypsyism/anti-Roma discrimination.
The IHRA said a fond farewell to Dr. Wichert ten Have, who has served as Advisor to the IHRA since 2017. His contribution to the IHRA has been invaluable and he was thanked for his kind, helpful, and dedicated approach to the IHRA’s work. The IHRA then appointed Dr. Robert Williams as the IHRA’s new Advisor. In this role, Dr. Williams will provide advice to the IHRA Chair, Secretary General, and expert Working Group members on key content issues and will help the IHRA move forward in its efforts to counter distortion and safeguard the record of the Holocaust and the genocide of the Roma.
Special events included a private viewing in Gothenburg City Library for IHRA delegates of the exhibition “Legacy of Silence” on the genocide of the Roma by Nazi Germany and its collaborators, and receptions held both at “Börsen,” the banquet hall of Gothenburg City Council, and at the Segerstedt Institute at the University of Gothenburg.