On Holocaust Remembrance Day, "We must reassert our commitment to human rights" ~ UN RC

At an event organised jointly by the embassies of Israel and Germany and the UN, the UN RC calls for renewed commitment to human right for a better world.

I am honoured to join you in this commemorative event in memory of the millions of victims of the Holocaust.  I thank the Embassy of the State of Israel, the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany and colleagues from the UN system for organizing this event.

The Holocaust is a significant moment in our history - a period of history that cannot and must not be forgotten.  Every year since 2005, we gather together to honour the memory of the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust – and the many other victims of this unprecedented, calculated cruelty and horror. Not only do we pay our respects to those who suffered this cruel act, we also reassert our commitment to human rights by making sure that new generations respect and cherish human rights and peace. Never again must this happen.

This year’s commemoration, under the theme “Facing the Aftermath: Recovery and Reconstitution after the Holocaust” focuses on the measures taken by a multitude of players in the aftermath of the Holocaust to begin the process of recovery and reconstitution of individuals, communities, and systems of justice. It also encourages a discussion of how measures taken in the past could contribute in the context of rebuilding societies damaged by atrocity crimes, crimes against humanity, war and the ravages of disease.  

Today, we have all seen and felt the impact of one of the world’s deadliest pandemics – COVID-19.  Needless to say, the pandemic has revealed the economic, social and political cracks in our world. Could we have done anything to reverse this blow? I will not be surprised if the answer is YES. The need to invest in a networked multilateralism that sees our shared prosperity and progress achieved through shared action has never been more evident. Remembering the atrocities of the holocaust together and working together to ensure these never happen again is befitting and the way to go. We are constantly reminded to put measures in place to avert catastrophes, to learn from the past and build a society where everyone is treated equally and where no one is left behind.  The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. They address the global challenges we face, including poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace and justice.

However, we will not be able to meet the SDGs in the absence of peace and tolerance, and respect for human rights. Everyone must be safe and must feel protected.  The SDGs clearly emphasize the responsibilities of all States, in conformity with the Charter of the United Nations, to respect, protect and promote human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, without the distinction of race, color, sexual orientation, disability, gender, or religious and political ideologies.

Learning from the Holocaust of 76 years ago must be our mantra – to ensure our world is better and safer.

Distinguished guests, Ladies and gentlemen,

Today is a day where we must reassert our commitment to human rights, collectively stand up against racism, discrimination and violence and most importantly, we must also go beyond remembrance, and make sure that new generations commit and take tangible actions to respect and value human rights and peace. We must commit to making our world a better place for today’s and future generations.

I understand over the years, the UN system has partnered with the Embassy of Israel and other stakeholders to organize outreach activities in schools to imbue in young people the principles of human rights and to abhor racism, discrimination and hate speech. We must continue in these footsteps to ensure the generations after us are well informed and prepared to protect their generations from these negative acts. I am glad that today too, we are reflecting on what this means for Ghana and Ghanaians as the nation and its citizens strive for inclusive, democratic growth. This is a welcome addition.

Ladies and gentlemen,

In his speech for the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust, the UN Secretary General António Guterres draws our attention to the effect and impact of hate, discrimination and attacks by one group of people against another, and I am honored to read out his full statement:

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“Today we honour the memory of the six million Jews and millions of others who were systematically murdered in the Holocaust by the Nazis and their collaborators.

This year’s anniversary takes place under the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has revealed longstanding fractures and injustices in our societies and contributed to a resurgence in antisemitism and xenophobia.

The Holocaust was the culmination of two millennia of discrimination, attacks, expulsions and periodic mass killings of Jews. It should have ended antisemitism for good. But it did not.

Antisemitism unfortunately remains alive and well.

Today, white supremacists and neo-Nazis are resurgent, organizing and recruiting across borders, intensifying their efforts to deny, distort and rewrite history including the Holocaust. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has given them new opportunities to target minorities, based on religion, race, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, disability and immigration status.

We must make urgent joint efforts to stop them.

As we consider the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, we must address the fragilities and gaps exposed by the pandemic and strengthen our mutual bonds, based on our common humanity.

This year must be a year of healing. Healing from the pandemic, and healing our broken societies in which hatred has all too easily taken root.

As we remember those who died in the Holocaust and honour the survivors, our best tribute is the creation of a world of equality, justice and dignity for all” unquote

Let me continue to assure you that the UN in Ghana remains steadfast in its commitment to support Ghana end all forms of discrimination and injustice in Ghana and that we pledge our support and lend our voice to all efforts that create the sound foundation upon which this society and global society heals and builds back better for a brighter future, mindful of these atrocities and committed more than ever to see a future devoid of this.

Thank you very much.

Speech by
Author
Charles Abani
UN Resident Coordinator
UN
Charles Abani
UN entities involved in this initiative
RCO
United Nations Resident Coordinator Office
Other entities involved in this initiative
EOG
Embassy of Germany