A newly released report by the UN Special Adviser on Prevention of Genocide, Alice Wairimu Nderitu has addressed combating Holocaust denial and distortion in specific detail, marking a first for the world body.
The paper was produced in collaboration with AJC’s Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights (JBI), expressing alarm about the increasing spread of Holocaust denial and distortion online and offline. The policy paper calls on UN officials to reject expressions of Holocaust denial and distortion and to actively implement measures to stop its spread while respecting the right to freedom of speech.
“Holocaust denial is rooted in antisemitism,” said Nderitu in the paper’s foreword.
She added that her agency is “extremely worried about the increasingly frequent distortions of the Holocaust’s scope and intentionality.”
Nderitu emphasized that denying the facts of the Holocaust and other genocides generates fear among victims. Doing so “constitutes a warning sign of societal fragility” and “can inspire and fuel hatred of, or even incite violence against, communities that previously experienced atrocity crimes.”
AJC welcomed the publication of the paper, the first to examine Holocaust denial produced by Nderitu’s office.
“The UN policy paper is groundbreaking because it emphasizes that all of the world body’s personnel should act in ways that clearly reflect its support for all communities that have experienced genocide and atrocity crimes, and specifically highlights that Jewish communities continue to be threatened by the antisemitic attitudes and incidents that Holocaust denial fuels,” said Felice Gaer, director of AJC’s JBI.
“Special Adviser Nderitu is to be applauded for courageously and clearly communicating to the UN system that the threat posed to Jews, and to entire societies, by continuing Holocaust denial and distortion is serious, and that UN officials should condemn it, even when doing so may be politically difficult, because their silence may be interpreted as condoning it.”
The paper listed recommendations compiled from a joint strategy session in December 2021 between JBI and the UN Genocide Prevention Office.
Recommendations included educating UN officials on recognizing and understanding Holocaust denial and distortion, including referring to the IHRA working definition of antisemitism; consulting with representatives of the Jewish community to understand their concerns; engaging with government officials to urge them to condemn Holocaust denial and distortion; incorporating teaching about the Holocaust and other genocides into higher education and civil servant training; and urging social media company to use content moderation to mitigate the impact of Holocaust and genocide denial and distortion, including content removal.