“We share a commitment to throw light on the still obscured shadows of the Holocaust.”
-- Declaration of the Stockholm International Forum on the Holocaust
On 25 February 2014, the United Kingdom assumed the Chairmanship of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.
The outgoing Chair Dr. Mario Silva from Canada handed over the Chairmanship to Sir Andrew Burns, the UK’s Envoy for Post-Holocaust Issues.
The handover ceremony, attended by the diplomatic corps and the media, took place at the British Embassy in Berlin and was hosted by Ambassador Simon McDonald. At the handover the UK Chairmanship presented its programme for the year in a White Paper. Among the aims of the new IHRA Chair for 2014 will be to intensify work on IHRA’s multi-year plan and extend the influence of IHRA beyond the confines of Europe and North America.
“We are here today to discuss Holocaust education, research and remembrance, the struggle against historical revisionism, the fight against Holocaust denial and denigration - indeed the continuingly urgent fight against antisemitism and racial, religious and ethnic prejudice,” stated Sir Andrew Burns during his speech.
Burns outlined four core tasks for the UK Chairmanship:
The United Kingdom was one of the three founding members of IHRA and an original signatory of the Stockholm Declaration of 2000. The UK held the IHRA Chairmanship for the first time in 1999.
The UK has long played a leading role internationally on Holocaust education, remembrance and research. In 1991 England was the first European country to make teaching about the Holocaust a mandatory part of the history curriculum in state secondary schools, whilst in 2009 it was the first country to undertake extensive national research into Holocaust teaching and learning.
Holocaust Memorial Day has been marked in the UK since 2001, having been inaugurated the previous year by the then prime minister.
The UK also has an extensive network of active and innovative organizations working in the field of Holocaust education, remembrance and research.
The UK Chairmanship will host two IHRA Plenary meetings during the course of the year, in London in May and in Manchester in December.