UNESCO - United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

09/23/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 09/23/2021 05:24

Addressing global rise in Holocaust distortion, UNESCO and USHMM reaffirm joint commitment on inaugural visit

More than 75 years after the Second World War, antisemitism and Holocaust distortion are on the rise globally, just as we lose our best teachers - the survivors - from whom we still have so much to learn. Amid this urgency, UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay confirmed the commitment to advancing international Holocaust education during her first official visit to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum on 22 September.

During the visit, Director-General Azoulay met with the Museum's Director Sara Bloomfield and members of the Museum's Council and toured the Museum's exhibitions, including a personal moment of reflection at the eternal flame in the Hall of Remembrance.

"It is an honour to visit the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, one of the world's leading institutions on Holocaust education and a key partner of UNESCO," Director-General Azoulay said. "There is no better long-term remedy for antisemitism than learning to think critically, learning to respect the dignity and freedom of others."

"As Holocaust denial and distortion and antisemitism rise globally, educating people about how and why the Holocaust happened and the ongoing dangers of this ancient hatred have never been more urgent," the Museum's Director Bloomfield said. "The Museum works with UNESCO to empower local educators to bring Holocaust history to new audiences around the globe."

In recent months, countries around the world have seen rising Holocaust distortion, including comparisons to the crimes of the German Nazi regime that distort and trivialize the actual history. In parallel, there has been a well-documented decline in knowledge about this history, amplifying the urgent need for informed Holocaust education that educates people about why and how the Holocaust happened and counters prejudice and hate speech once propagated by the German Nazi regime.

Since 2015, UNESCO and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum have been working together to advance Holocaust education globally. Through the International Programme on Holocaust and Genocide Education (IPHGE), UNESCO and the Museum are supporting the development of education initiatives that resonate with local audiences, including in countries where Holocaust education is non-existent or limited in the school system.

Supported by the Government of Canada, new initiatives have been implemented in 16 countries across all regions of the world, including in Argentina, India, Mexico and Namibia, where participants have developed exhibitions, digital educational resources and teacher training programmes. With renewed funding from Canada, UNESCO and the Museum are now expanding the programme to more countries and developing guidance and training on educating about violent pasts and preventing future genocides.

UNESCO promotes education about the Holocaust and genocide as part of the Organization's programme on Global Citizenship Education (GCED), a priority of the Education 2030 Agenda. In this context, UNESCO supports education stakeholders to help learners to become critical thinkers, responsible and active global citizens who value human dignity and respect for all, and to reject antisemitism, racism and other forms of prejudice that can lead to violence and genocide. Learn more