IHRA Chair speaks at United Nations General Assembly

On 28 January, 2019, IHRA Chair, Ambassador Sandro De Bernardin, delivered a statement at the annual observance of the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust in the General Assembly at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The theme of the memorial ceremony was "Holocaust Remembrance: Demand and Defend Your Human Rights".

Addressing the audience, the IHRA Chair stated: "The first human right to be protected is the right to memory. Therefore, the defence of human rights should start with the safeguarding of the record and the countering of distortion. Human rights are a public good and, as such, the property of all. A public good is indivisible: so, it cannot be denied to anybody, neither an individual nor a given group."

Ambassador De Bernardin continued, "With this in mind, I expect this meeting to contribute to spreading a simple message: when you hear calls to restrict anyone’s rights, when you hear the sound of the bell of discrimination, 'never send to know for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee."

Read the full speech

Group photo

The ceremony was hosted by Ms. Alison Smale, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications. The event included remarks by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres; H.E. Ms. María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, President of the seventy-third session of the General Assembly; H.E. Mr. Danny Danon, Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations; H.E. Mr. Jonathan R. Cohen, Chargé d’Affaires, United States Mission to the United Nations. Ms. Sara J. Bloomfield, Director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum served as the keynote speaker. Mr. Marian Turski, Chair of the Council of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw, Deputy Chair of the Association of the Jewish Historical Institute of Poland, journalist and recipient of the French National Order of the Legion of Honour, shared his testimony as a survivor of the Holocaust. Ms. Inge Auerbacher shared her account as a child survivor of Teresienstadt. Cantor Benny Rogosnitzky of the Park East Synagogue recited the memorial prayers. The ceremony included musical elements performed by the PS22 Chorus.

IHRA Chair, Ambassador Sandro De Bernardin. Courtesy of UN Photo