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The International Day for the Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust

Today, the twenty-seventh of January, marks International Day for the Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust, which corresponds the day on which the largest Nazi death camp in Poland was liberated by the Soviet army in 1945. The General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the practice of commemorating this event at this time each year in its resolution to that effect in 2005.

The importance of the UN General Assembly resolution referred to above stems from its strong condemnation of all manifestations of religious intolerance, and all forms of incitement or violence based on ethnic origin or religious belief, whether it is directed against persons or communities. The resolution urges all countries to tailor and develop educational programs to reflect the lessons learned from the Holocaust such that it will be perpetuated in the minds of future generations in order to prevent genocide in the future. Equally, the UN resolution rejects any total or partial denial of the Holocaust as a historical event.

The United Nations established in 2006 - based on the same resolution - the United Nations Holocaust Awareness Raising Program to remind the world of that human tragedy so that it may not be repeated in the future.  This program adopted several activities to achieve the goal behind its establishment, including the formation of a global network to raise awareness about the Holocaust, as well as the production educational materials both in print and online, in addition to the establishment of a permanent exhibition at the headquarters of the United Nations in New York. The program also works with some of the survivors of the Holocaust through listening to their stories and using these stories to prevent repetition of that tragedy. The United Nations chose the theme for this year to focus on the bravery of those who carried out rescue operations for victims of the Holocaust in order to bring to light the extraordinary courage that enabled these heroes to carry out the rescue operations in a very complex situation, providing, in the process, a great and invaluable lesson in confronting injustice and standing up against human rights violations in the most difficult of times.

We, at Geneva Institute for Human Rights, have been always looking at the bright side of any matter, believing that in every human experience lived there are valuable lessons to be learned; even the crimes of the past can be employed to build a better future. What happened in the Holocaust is a lesson for humanity to spare no effort to prevent repeating what happened of heinous crimes again.  As noted by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, in her address on the anniversary of this occasion: "This day reminds us that the responsibility in ensuring that the non-occurrence of such crimes lies with each one of us" and that “this responsibility that goes beyond words and good intentions and translate into action against all forms of discrimination, beside never to turn a blind eye on any discourse that contains hatred and incitement to violence.”.

We, at the Geneva Institute for Human Rights, note with regret, in the course of drawing attention to this anniversary, that genocide did not stop yet but was repeated, and continues to be repeated, in other parts of the world. International conscience must be alerted in order to stop genocide, which can only be achieved through addressing its core causes of racism, hatred and intolerance towards others. We can’t help repeating what the High Commissioner for Human Rights has said, that "eternal vigilance is the only safeguard to ensure the non-repetition of what happened in the past”.

In contemplating this memory, the Geneva Institute for Human Rights hopes that the world's conscience will turn an eye, on equal footing and without any discrimination,  on all the crimes committed against humanity for the sake of establishing a world where the values of human, dignity, and justice prevail.

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