Christine Evans-Klock, 25 January 2017, Accra: Statement at the International Holocaust Remembrance Day


On behalf of the United Nations in Ghana, I welcome you to this Forum on the occasion of the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust.

Thank you, for coming together to commemorate the Holocaust Remembrance Day in Ghana, which this year is jointly organised by the United Nations, the Embassy of Israel and the Embassy of Germany.

I would like to thank especially H.E. Ami Mehl, Ambassador of the State of Israel for the initiative, and H.E. Christoph Retzlaff, Ambassador of Germany for co-organizing this event.

Since 2005, the United Nations has been commemorating Holocaust Remembrance Day annually.  January 27 was selected for this commemoration – the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp.

This initiative provides the United Nations with the opportunity to urge Member States to develop educational programmes to instil the memory of the tragedy in order to prevent genocide from occurring again. It focuses in particular on sharing this message with young people.

Every year, Holocaust Remembrance Day is an occasion for us to renew our commitment, a day when we must reassert our commitment to human rights.

In a recent speech at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, UN Secretary General Mr António Guterres pointed out that prevention of human rights abuses is key:  It takes Investment: Investment in the resilience of societies, investment in strengthening state institutions and civil societies, in the protection of human rights, in the empowerment of women, in young people, in addressing the basic needs of the population … Investment in all these areas is necessary in order for “diversity to be a richness, not a threat”.

Today we remind ourselves to remain steadfast in refusing to justify the denial of rights and human dignity to any group, classified for any reason as “other.” 

The Holocaust is rightly recognized as a colossal crime.  Today we remember the victims.  We remember the crimes committed against the Jews during the Holocaust.  We renew our commitment to prevent such atrocities.  And we reject the spread of hate that leads to acts of violence.

Finally, we must make sure that new generations respect and cherish human rights and peace.  This is our theme of the 2017 Holocaust Remembrance Day: “Education for a better future”.

It is good to be part of educational activities that are taking place across the globe this week. I invite you to also take some time to go through the exhibition which has been set-up by the UN Information Centre.

We are here today to pay tribute to the victims of the Holocaust.  And in their memory we ask ourselves, who do we treat as the “Other” today?  Who is at risk of not having their rights recognized and protected, of being excluded, of being ostracized in our society?  Who fears violence? 

Taking human rights violations seriously and ensuring that they are addressed is at the core of our UN mandate. Human rights are at the forefront of sustainable development, and of securing peace with justice.

Thank you for being here this evening to share this commitment.