Holocaust Remembrance: Education Against Extremism & Building and Better Future

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In honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day, NGO Relations, Advocacy and Special Events Section and the Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme, Outreach Division and the Department of Public Information organized a meeting to discuss the importance of education against extremism. Throughout the briefing, the curator of the Permanent Exhibition at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Dr. Steven Luckert, continually placed special emphasis on the role that propaganda had during the rise of the Nazi party. The Nazi movement was a rapid rise of power. Within a few years, the Nazi party won 230 seats in parliament, becoming for the first time the largest party in parliament. It was advertised as a “party of youth, a party for the future.” Widespread propaganda was so efficiently distributed by the Nazis that it was one of the most effective factors leading German constituents to vote for an extremist party.

Dr. Steven Luckert explained that Adolf Hitler was one of the first German politicians to craft a public persona by practicing and perfecting charismatic gestures, creating a trademark logo, and using slogans that appealed to mass mindsets. Dr. Luckert noted that Hitler recognized women’s influence in Germany. The majority of women voters were swayed by the party as well, although there were no promises of progress for women’s rights. Hitler’s campaign of propaganda was carefully curated. It included influencing children through boardgames and anti-semitic word problems in mathematics textbooks and the promise of protection from Jewish people rather than a war of aggression against them. Dr. Luckert’s in depth analysis of Hitler’s rapid rise to power called for a more careful consumption of widespread modern media and warned of the influences it has on societies today.

Meeting: “Holocaust Remembrance: Educating against Extremism, Building a Better Future” (In observance of the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the victims of the Holocaust (27 January)) (organized by the NGO Relations, Advocacy and Special Events Section and the Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme, Outreach Division, Department of Public Information (DPI)

Date/ Time/Location: Thursday, 26 January 2017; 11:00 to 12:30; UN Headquarters Conference Room 1

Speakers: Kimberly Mann, Manager of the Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme; Steven Luckert; Curator of the Permanent Exhibition at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum; Jamey Fischer, Professor of German and Cinema and Digital Media, University of California, Davis and Director of the Davis Humanities Institute; Thomas Schieb, Minister Plenipotentiary of Germany to the United Nations; Virginie Ladisch, Head of the Children and Youth Programme at the International Center for Transitional Justice; Gillian Kitley, Senior Officer and Head of Office of the United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect

Written By: Janice Park, WIT Representative

Meeting on the Jacob Blaustein Institute’s Manual on Human Rights and the Prevention of Genocide

13604167335_0958c8da2b_bThis meeting commemorated the creation of the Jacob Blaustein Institute’s Manual on Human Rights and the Prevention of Genocide. Deputy Secretary-General Eliasson opened the panel by focusing discussion on developing tools to mobilize action.

Permanent Representative Gasana (Rwanda) stated that we are still witnessing major human rights violations in the Central African Republic, Sudan, Iraq, and Kenya that warrant our resolve. Though it is impressive to see the international community’s commitment since the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi, Gasana believes that political will is lacking. Of course, in addition to political will, genocide prevention also requires civilian protection, warning systems, and swift, decisive action based on those warnings. Gasana believes that the current conflict-solving model, in which the Security Council manages genocide rather than preventing it, is problematic. He called upon the Security Council to collaborate more with the Special Office for the Prevention of Genocide.

Mr. Dieng stated that the statement “never again” is already a sign of failure: we must continue to take every effort to prevent what happened in 1994. Furthermore, he wanted everyone to refer to the “genocide in Rwanda” as the “genocide against Tutsi in Rwanda in which Hutu and others who opposed the genocide were killed.” Dieng acknowledged that genocides are not committed in a vacuum; there are usually warning signs. He challenged the international community to pick up on these early warnings of impending violence and immediately begin taking preventative action.

In the Q&A session, someone asked if an overly cautious approach, in which every human rights violation was deemed a genocide, would undermine the significance of the term ‘genocide.’ Eliasson responded that, rather than trying to distinguish ‘genocide candidates,’ we need to analyze each country’s risks on a case-by-case basis.

Meeting: Meeting on the Jacob Blaustein Institute’s Manual on Human Rights and the Prevention of Genocide
Date & Location: 11 April 2015, Conference Room 11, UN Headquarters, New York
Speakers: Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary-General; Eugène-Richard Gasana, Permanent Representative of Rwanda to the United Nations; Adama Dieng, UNSG Special Adviser for the Prevention of Genocide; Felice D. Gaer, Director of AJC’s Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights; Roberta Cohen, non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institute
Written By WIT Representative: Alis Yoo