January 25th, 2007 05:05 EST
General Assembly draft text condemns Holocaust denial
United Nations -- The United States expects overwhelming support in the U.N. General Assembly later in January for a resolution condemning any denial of the Holocaust.
The draft resolution circulated by the United States "condemns without any reservation any denial of the Holocaust" and urges U.N. member states "unreservedly to reject any denial of the Holocaust as a historical event."
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Alejandro Wolff said that about one-third of the 192 U.N. member states already have signed on as co-sponsors and "the number is increasing by the hour." He expects the assembly to adopt the resolution on January 26.
The vote comes on the eve of the second International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust. The General Assembly adopted a resolution in November 2005 setting January 27 for the international observance. That resolution urges all nations to develop ways to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive so that future generations will help prevent similar acts of genocide. (See related article.)
January 27 marks the date in 1945 when the Soviet army liberated the largest Nazi death camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau, Poland. The Holocaust refers to the systematic, bureaucratic effort by the Nazi government of Germany to exterminate Jews and other groups the regime targeted.
"The timing in association with this somber commemoration is appropriate and helpful in trying to get the [General Assembly] membership as a whole to collectively denounce any form of Holocaust denial," Wolff said in an interview with USINFO January 24.
In December 2006, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad convened a conference in Tehran, Iran, that brought together those who question the extent or reality of the Holocaust. Individuals from about 30 countries attended despite worldwide condemnation of the event.
Wolff, who is acting head of the U.S. delegation to the United Nations, said that the Iranian conference is exactly the type of activity that the resolution addresses but the resolution is not a response to that one event.
"We want a resounding statement from the international community … saying these activities [Holocaust denial], participation in these activities, sponsorship of these activities is not acceptable," the ambassador said.
"There certainly have been activities -- including the conference the Iranians sponsored -- that I would deem in violation already of the 2005 resolution rejecting any denial of the Holocaust," he said. "This [new resolution] is a further reminder that we mean it."
Although General Assembly resolutions are not binding on members states, they have "moral value," Wolff said.
When the General Assembly speaks with one voice condemning Holocaust denial, he said, that will be a "powerful statement" and "a basis on which we can address any activities that do deny the Holocaust in the future. We will be able to reference this and at least have the power of moral suasion, as well as being able to follow up on violations of this resolution," Wolff said.
Such resolutions are "meaningful signals and signs that this is one thing that the international community shares …assessment that Holocaust denial is unacceptable and needs to be condemned," the ambassador said.
The draft resolution emphasizes the importance of remembering the Holocaust as critical in preventing further acts of genocide and adds that "ignoring the historical fact of these terrible events increases the risk they will be repeated."
Noting that "all people and states have a vital stake in a world free of genocide," the draft resolution "condemns without any reservation any denial of the Holocaust."
(USINFO is produced by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)By Judy Aita
USINFO United Nations Correspondent