On 13 July, 2017, some 50 experts, including representatives of governments, international organizations and the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), met to discuss effective practices and educational approaches to addressing antisemitism at an event at UNESCO Headquarters, Paris. The main focus of the event, organized by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and UNESCO, was the joint development of a guide for educational policy-makers.
The guide will offer comprehensive approaches to respond to the challenge of antisemitism in classrooms and will draw on guidelines already developed by international and national stakeholders. The IHRA was represented by the Chair of its Committee on Antisemitism and Holocaust Denial, Robert Williams.
‘Education is one of the strongest means of building a society free of antisemitism and other forms of discrimination,’ said Jan Henrik Fahlbusch, ODIHR Adviser on Combating Anti-Semitism and IHRA delegate. ‘Today's discussion has shown the need to provide policy recommendations and good practices to governments on how to achieve this goal most effectively.’
The meeting of representatives from OSCE participating States and UN Member States gave participants the opportunity to provide feedback on the outline of the policy guide. It follows a meeting of an ODIHR education experts group held on 10 and 11 July, also at UNESCO Headquarters. Image: Robert Williams being interviewed during the expert meeting in Paris.
The participants explored current discussions on how antisemitism is understood and manifests itself. Along with examining effective practices, key policies and sustainable methods for addressing antisemitism through education, they also highlighted the educational contexts in which it can be addressed, such as human rights and Global Citizenship Education.
“Antisemitism is a human rights issue. It has a negative impact on society as a whole, and not only on the group affected. Preventing antisemitism through education should therefore be an effort to equip young people with the skills to reject antisemitic views, as well as all forms of prejudice, while understanding better the specifics of antisemitism over time,’ said Karel Fracapane, Senior Project Officer at UNESCO Education Sector and IHRA delegate.
This event was organized as part of the German-funded “Turning Words into Action to Address Anti-Semitism” project of OSCE/ODIHR, which addresses the issue by focusing on three components: security, education and coalition building. The education policy guidelines are scheduled to be ready in 2018.
The IHRA adopted a working definition of antisemitism on 26 May 2016. The consensus decision was reached after in-depth discussion of the issue during the IHRA Plenary meetings held in Bucharest from 23-26 May 2016.
The IHRA unites governments and experts to strengthen, advance and promote Holocaust education, remembrance and research world-wide, and to uphold the commitments of the 2000 Stockholm Declaration. UNESCO and OSCE/ODHIR are both permanent international partner organizations of the IHRA.