This week OHPI’s CEO, Dr Andre Oboler, is in Bucharest as part of the Australian delegation to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).
IHRA is a unique intergovernmental organization which places political and social leaders’ support behind the need for Holocaust education, remembrance and research both nationally and internationally. At present IHRA is made up of 31 Member Countries, ten Observer Countries, and seven international partner organisations. Australia became an observer last year, a step which may lead to full membership in the future.
The Bucharest meeting is the first bi-annual Plenary meeting under the Romanian Chairmanship and over four days around 200 experts and policymakers from all over the world will meet to discuss the Holocaust as a contemporary political issue.
The Australian delegation is headed by H.E. Ambassador David Ritchie AO. It also includes eight experts, two on each of IHRA permanent Working Groups: Pauline Rockman OAM and Dr Noah Shenker (Museums and Memorials Working Group), Prof. Suzanne Rutland and Suzanne Hampel OAM (Education Working Group), Dr Donna-Lee Frieze and Dr Avril Alba (Academic Working Group) and Dr Steven Cooke and Dr Andre Oboler (Communication Working Group).
The meeting will discuss the IHRA country evaluations, protection of endangered sites, and the adoption of a working definition of antisemitism. In a press release from IHRA the Chair, Ambassador Mihnea Constantinescu, said “It is a great pleasure to welcome representatives of almost 40 countries in Bucharest. I look forward to a week of challenging and productive discussions.” In addition to the delegates, the European Commission’s Coordinator on combatting antisemitism, Katharina von Schnurbein, will be attending.
In addition to meetings of the working groups, the Bucharest meeting will hear the outcomes from a conference on research on education about the Holocaust held in February; be presented with the second volume in the IHRA publication series “Bystanders, Rescuers or Perpetrators? The Neutral Countries and the Shoah”; hear reports on current projects including planning for a conference on the topic of the mass murder of people with disabilities and its connection to the Holocaust, and a research project on institutions, museums, governmental and non-governmental organizations that offer programs using a comparative approach to teach about the Holocaust and genocide.
Dr Oboler said, “I’m looking forward to a busy and productive week in Romania. Major improvements to IHRA’s online presence are being planned and this meeting will see that work move rapidly forward. At OHPI we’ve been discussing a range of new IHRA related activities both with other members of the Australian delegation and with members of IHRA from other countries. This week we hope to progress some of those ideas and see how our unique expertise, in combination with the skills and expertise of others, can deliver results on issues such as tackling Holocaust denial online.”