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IHRA Plenary Meetings, Iasi


On 10 November the IHRA successfully concluded its second bi-annual Plenary meeting under the Romanian Chairmanship in Iasi.

Over four days almost 200 experts and policymakers from the IHRA’s 31 Member Countries, eleven Observer Countries, and seven international partner organisations gathered to discuss Holocaust education, research and remembrance as a contemporary political issue.

During the Plenary Session on Thursday 10 November Italy's candidacy to chair the IHRA in 2018 was accepted. Italy will follow Switzerland to chair the organization.

Following a joint recommendation to the IHRA Debrecen Plenary in 2015 on the topic of memorial sites, the IHRA continued to focus its efforts on protecting and preserving  Holocaust-related sites throughout its Member Countries and beyond. The IHRA Working Groups and Committees made a number of recommendations to the IHRA Plenary, which consists of 31 countries, regarding memorial sites and urged the responsible Member Countries to safeguard and preserve respectful places of remembrance, with accurate exhibitions which provide adequate historical context. The Plenary was very pleased to note the announcement during the Plenary Meetings that the Czech Government had approved a bill to close the operations of the industrial pig farm located on the site of the former Roma concentration camp. The IHRA Committee on the Genocide of the Roma has been long involved with the Lety site and has held a number of meetings with representatives of the Czech Government on this topic.

Speaking at the site at Lety during a recent IHRA visit to the site, the IHRA Chair said: "“I feel very strongly about the IHRA initiative to protect and preserve memorial sites. As time passes, we risk losing these places of history and memory. Respectful places of commemoration are essential for the victims, for the survivors and their families, but also for society as a whole. We remember to strengthen our societies against such tragedies happening again.”

A further focus in Iasi was on the possible contribution of IHRA experts to the field of genocide prevention and R2P. Leading this initiaive is the IHRA Committee on the Holocaust, Genocide, and Crimes against Humanity which has recently completed a research project on institutions, governmental and non-governmental organizations that offer programs on teaching about the Holocaust and genocide. The survey was presented at the Iasi Plenary and was published online on the IHRA website in November 2016. The IHRA Plenary agreed Holocaust expertise within the IHRA should be visible, accessible and available to organizations and governments dealing with R2P and genocide prevention as the Holocaust is essential to our understanding of genocide, crimes against humanity and mass violence. Over the next years, IHRA delegates will attend relevant genocide prevention and R2P fora to assess where and how IHRA can best contribute its expertise. The Plenary was also very pleased to welcome Mo Bleeker, Special Envoy, Head of the task force for Dealing with the Past and Prevention of Atrocities, Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs FDFA.

Multiple upcoming IHRA events were announced, including a publication on Teaching and Learning about the Holocaust from an international perspective in March 2017; a conference to be held in Vilnius, Lithuania from 22-23 March 2017 entitled “As Mass Murder Began: Identifying and Remembering the Killing Sites of Summer-Fall 1941”; a  joint conference to be held with the Holy See in the Vatican on the topic of refugee policy in early 2017;  a one-day workshop on Holocaust edcuation to be held in El Salvador in January 2017; the expert meeting ‘50 Years of Roma Genocide Research: 1966-2016’ which is planned for 25 - 27 May 2017; and a conference on the murder of people with disabilities in partnership with the Pädagogische Hochschule Bern which is planned for November 2017.

The IHRA Plenary is being held in Iasi to coincide with the 75th commemoration of the Iasi Pogrom. The IHRA unites governments and experts to shape and advance Holocaust education, remembrance and research world-wide, to speak out on Holocaust related issues including antisemitism, and to uphold the commitments of the 2000 Stockholm Declaration


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