Irina Bokova: The Holocaust constitutes our shared heritage of humanity
“The Holocaust constitutes our shared heritage of humanity” says the Director-General of UNESCO, marking the Eighth Edition of the Holocaust Essay Contest organized by the Simon Wiesenthal Centre and the Association "Verbe et Lumiere" at UNESCO.
The Director General met with the five laureates of the Eighth Edition of the Holocaust Essay Contest, organised by the Simon Wiesenthal Centre and the Association "Verbe et Lumiere," in presence of Shimon Samuels, Director for International Relations of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, Dr. Ilya Altman, Director of the Russian Research and Educational Holocaust Centre, together with Mr. Paul Schaffer, Holocaust survivor and Honorary President of Yad Vashem-France.
The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova participated in the seminar organized by the Simon Wiesenthal Centre and the Association "Verbe et Lumiere" on the occasion of the 8th edition of the Holocaust Essay Contest to reward the five Russian laureates of this year’s essay contest. The laureates were led by Dr. Shimon Samuels, Director for International Relations of the Wiesenthal Centre, and Dr. Ilya Altman, the Director of the Russian Research and Educational Holocaust Centre.
The Seminar took place in the presence of Mr. Nimrod Barkan, Ambassador and Permanent Delegate of Israel to UNESCO, Mr. David Killion, Ambassador and Permanent Delegate of the United States to UNESCO, Ms. Tatian Balykina, Representative of the Permanent Delegation of the Russian Federation to UNESCO, and Representatives from the Permanent Delegations of Germany and Belgium to UNESCO.
The Seminar was also attended by Mr. Paul Schaffer, Holocaust survivor and Honorary President of Yad Vashem-France.
The Director-General recalled UNESCO’s strong commitment to ensuring that knowledge of the Holocaust and the lessons that can be drawn from it are taught across all continents as a fundamental contribution to promoting human rights and advancing individual dignity.
Irina Bokova emphasized that UNESCO is the only agency of the United Nations that has a dedicated programme for Holocaust Education, and referred to UNESCO’s recent symposium on “Holocaust Education in a Global Context,” designed to address global perspectives on the Holocaust in countries that were not directly involved, the preparation of a regional consultation with countries of Sub-Saharan Africa on how to introduce the Holocaust as a teaching subject in schools, and the organization of a joint exhibition on the Holocaust by all six countries of former Yugoslavia.
She also emphasized the need to ensure and invest in transmission from generation to generation, so that education for human rights and remembrance is strengthened to build true global citizenship across the world. “You are living proof that the history of the Holocaust has profound meaning today for younger generations and will continue to carry significance into the future” said the Director-General.
The Director-General, while commending the work by Dr. Ilya Altman in leading the essay competition engaging hundreds of students to better understand the Holocaust, underscored “your presence gives us faith that we can make a difference through educating about the Holocaust: to study the history of this genocide is to take responsibility for the future -- it is a call to act today for tolerance and mutual respect, to fight against all forms of prejudice and racism.”
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