Annan, eulogizing survivor-activist, calls for annual Holocaust commemoration

28 September 2005

Speaking at the memorial for Holocaust survivor and rights activist Simon Wiesenthal, who died last week, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has called for a yearly, international day of Holocaust commemoration.

"As Simon Wiesenthal himself might well have said, we cannot just consign this evil to the past and forget about it," Mr. Annan said at the ceremony yesterday. "Every generation must be on its guard."

"Simon devoted decades to this struggle. His work to pursue a proper reckoning for those who committed the crimes of the Holocaust sent an important message to the world that impunity should not be allowed to stand," he added.

From his first meeting with Mr. Wiesenthal, Mr. Annan said he came away more convinced than ever of the need for the UN to remain at the centre of the world's struggle for human rights and human dignity.

In that context, he cited landmarks such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Genocide Convention, the establishment of the UN, the International Criminal Court and ad hoc criminal tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.

At the recent World Summit, he said, world leaders agreed in clear and unambiguous language that they have a responsibility to protect civilian populations against genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.

"But even as we make progress, we are painfully aware that we have fallen short; that we have seen genocide in our time, too; and that anti-Semitism still poisons too many societies," he said.

 

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