Christian Initiative promoting European-Israeli Cooperation

ECI concluded UN week by meeting Deputy Secretary General
– No place for Holocaust denial at the UN

New York, December 1st, 2012 - An intensive week of meetings with UN delegates in connection with the vote on the PA upgrade at the UN came to an end on Friday, when an ECI delegation was officially received by UN Deputy Secretary General, Jan Eliasson.

The meeting marked the final phase of the ”Ban Holocaust Denial at the UN” campaign which was initiated by ECI earlier this year after European Parliament President, Martin Schulz, announced that he had outlawed Holocaust denial in  the European Parliament.

In May, ECI met with the head of the UN Holocaust Remembrance Programme in New York to announce the launch of a petition. The campaign was put on hold a few months later in September, after UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon spoke at the annual meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement in Tehran. At the meeting, hosted by Iranian leader Ahmadinejad, Ban Ki-moon stated that he ”strongly rejected any threat by any UN member state to destroy another UN member state or the use of outrageous comments to deny historical facts such as the Holocaust.”

On Friday, Deputy Secretary General, Jan Eliasson, thanked ECI for its work on  Holocaust remembrance and recalled how he had been President of the UN General Assembly in November 2005  when  the resolution to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day was unanimously passed at the UN General Assembly.  In that same year, 2005, ECI initiated the first Holocaust Remembrance Day event in the European Parliament.

-‘The message of Holocaust remembrance is universal and it has relevance in every culture and civilization’, Eliasson said in the meeting.

‘The ”Ban Holocaust denial at the UN” petition illustrates how civil society and the UN can work together to achieve concrete results’, ECI Director Tomas Sandell said.

He explained that although ECI had initially been highly critical of Ban Ki-moon’s decision to attend the Non-Aligned meeting in Tehran, it later retracted having heard of   the statements made by the Secretary General.

Explaining ECI’s strategy to Eliasson, Sandell said ‘ECI decided to wait until the opening session of the UN General Assembly in the last week of September, to hear whether the reprimands by the Secretary General had made any difference.
Although Ahmadinejad’s speech at the 67th General Assembly was highly questionable, it did not explicitly mention Holocaust denial.’

Eliasson was pleased to hear of  the recognition of the role of the UN Secretary General in speaking out against Holocaust denial, but added that ”we all played our parts”, hence also giving credit  to ECI and the ”Ban Holocaust denial at the UN” campaign in achieving its goal.

The high level meeting with Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson also marked the start of the 2013  ”Learn from History” campaign which calls on local churches and faith communities to honour the victims of the Holocaust in their Sunday services on the last Sunday in  January.  The next Holocaust Remembrance Day will be on Sunday, January 27th, 2013. More information on how local churches and faith communities can take part in the campaign will be added to the ECI website.