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Chair's Blog


Learn more about the activities of IHRA Chair Dr. Mario Silva in his latest blog post below.

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New Post – 3 February 2014

In late January I attended the IHRA symposium on “Killing Sites” in Krakow, Poland.  Recognizing the importance of ensuring that the millions killed at these sites are remembered was the primary reason why IHRA identified killing sites as a priority in its Multi-Year Work Plan. The conference was well organized and demonstrated the importance of urging political leaders to support such undertakings.  I would like to thank the members of the Steering Committee on Killing Sites for their hard work in bringing this important conference to fruition.

Next I went to Helsinki to meet with members of the Finish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Education to emphasize the importance of having Member States attend IHRA Plenary meetings.  The discussions were productive and I also had an opportunity to discuss the Finnish education system with members of its National Board of Eduation.

I attended the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust on the January 27 at the United Nations in Vienna.  The event was a collaborate effort of IHRA,  Yad Vashem, the London Jewish Cultural Centre, the United Kingdom, the European Shoah Legacy Institute, the Czech Republic, the Canadian IHRA Chairmanship, and the Holocaust and United Nations Outreach Programme.  All three winners of the international poster competition were in attendance and it was wonderful to see that the top two were Canadian.

On the January 28, I was in Geneva to participate with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights at a side event on Holocaust remembrance.  That evening, I also spoke at a very moving event with survivors at the Assembly Hall, Palais des Nations.  The event was well attended by civil society and diplomats. 

During my visit in Geneva, I also had an opportunity to meet with the Deputy Minister of Justice, Ms. Monika Balatoni, regarding the Hungarian Chairmanship of IHRA in 2015.  I appreciated her interest in consulting with me regarding their upcoming Chairmanship.

My next journey took me to Rome and the Holy See where I met with His Eminence Cardinal Stafford and His Eminence Cardinal Ouellett regarding the need for cooperation between IHRA and the Vatican.  Both meetings were productive. 

On January 31, I met with the Chief Rabbi of Rome, Dr. Riccardo Di Segni.  We had a very positive exchange and I learned a great deal about Jewish life in Rome.  Following this meeting our delegation – which consisted of Sir Andrew, Professor Katz, Kathrin, and both the UK and Canadian Ambassadors – met with Msgr. Brian Farrell, Vice President of the Pontifical Commission of the Holy See for Religious Relations with the Jews; Msgr. Camilleri, the Undersecretary for Relations with States at the Secretariat of State; Msgr. Peter Wells, Assessor to the Secretary of State; and Msgr. Jose Bettencourt, Chief of Protocol.  These meetings went extremely well, with a great amount of time given to discussion on a host of issues.  This was a wonderful opportunity to share IHRA’s priorities with the Holy See and discuss how best deepen cooperation with the Vatican.  I really feel strongly that dialogue with the Holy See needs to go beyond the archives issue.  IHRA and the Vatican share common interests in commemorating and memorializing the victims of the Holocaust and in the field of Holocaust education.  I wish to thank Canadian Ambassador Jon Allen and his staff for the wonderful program that they organized for us during our visit.