The IHRA currently has 35 member countries and 8 observer countries. The national government of each country forms a delegation, generally consisting of leading educators, academics and representatives of museums and memorials. Many delegates also have specific areas of expertise, for example the genocide of the Roma; antisemitism and Holocaust denial; and other genocides and crimes against humanity.
The Presidency of the IHRA is held each year by a different member country on a voluntary basis. The Presidency hosts the IHRA plenary meetings up to twice a year in its country. The Plenary is the official decision-making body of the IHRA, consisting of the Head of Delegation from each IHRA member country, and responsible for adopting recommendations and decisions made by IHRA experts.
These experts meet in specialist Working Groups and Committees in the days leading up to Plenary Session, and work together remotely on multinational projects throughout the rest of the year. The unique composition of the IHRA means it is uniquely placed to take the lead on issues related to Holocaust education, research and remembrance in the international political arena.
Working Groups and Committees
The IHRA’s network of delegates is divided into three Working Groups. The Academic, Education, and Memorials and Museums Working Groups are each tasked with following developments in their respective sectors, identifying priority areas and making recommendations to the IHRA Plenary regarding how the IHRA can most effectively make an impact.
In addition to their core affiliation to these Working Groups, delegates also bring their expertise to IHRA’s specialized Committees. The Committee on the Genocide of the Roma, the Committee on Antisemitism and Holocaust Denial and the Committee on the Holocaust, Genocide, and Crimes Against Humanity are issue-focused standing committees that bring together experts from a range of different professional backgrounds and countries to recommend multidisciplinary solutions to persistent challenges.
Other, more temporary IHRA Committees form to coordinate specific IHRA initiatives, such as the “Seeking Protection” blog or the multi-year research project examining teaching and learning about the Holocaust.
On 1 March 2022, Sweden assumed the Presidency of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). The IHRA President is Ambassador Ann Bernes.
Ambassador Bernes has had a distinguished career in both private sector and public service, holds a degree in Journalism from the University of Gothenburg, and has also studied Political Science, International Relations and Economic History at the University of Stockholm.
Ambassador Bernes started her professional career as a journalist in 1985, covering both national and international affairs.
In 1994 Ambassador Bernes joined the Swedish Foreign Service and thereafter has served her country as a diplomat holding a number of assignments related to, inter alia, security policy, crisis management, human rights as well as the European Union and the United Nations.
The assignments between 1994 and 2010 included postings in Stockholm and London, and for shorter periods of time also in New York and Brussels while the assignments at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Stockholm included laying the foundations for the civilian crisis management of the European Union, heading the Chancellery of the late Foreign Minister Anna Lindh and working as Director and Deputy Head of the Department for Security Policy.
In 2010 Ambassador Bernes was appointed Director and Head of the Department for Policy, Research and Development at the Folke Bernadotte Academy with a focus on areas like conflict prevention and dialogue processes, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, security sector reform and the rule of law.
In 2015 Ambassador Bernes returned to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs as Sweden’s Ambassador for Gender Equality and Coordinator of Feminist Foreign Policy – a position she held until 2021 and which made it possible to contribute to the policy’s impact both internally, in the Foreign Service, and globally, where several other countries have followed in Sweden’s footsteps.
In November 2021 Ambassador Bernes was appointed Ambassador and Chair of the Swedish Presidency of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance which runs from 1 March 2022 until 28 February 2023.
Honorary Chairman and Advisor to the IHRA
The IHRA has an Honorary Chairman, Professor Yehuda Bauer, and an Advisor to the IHRA, Dr Wichert ten Have. The Honorary Chairman and the Advisor to the IHRA are available to consultant with and guide the IHRA Chair, Secretary General and working group members on key content issues. Biographies and photos of Professor Yehuda Bauer and Professor Wichert ten Have are available in the IHRA Press Kit.