Holocaust Remembrance Day is a time to teach tolerance – Ban Ki-moon
In a message on the Day, the Secretary-General said it is not enough to remember, honour and grieve for the dead. "As we do, we must also educate, nurture and care for the living."
He called for a special focus on the younger generation. "We must foster in our children a sense of responsibility, so that they can build societies that protect and promote the rights of all citizens," he said.
Children must gain a respect for diversity before intolerance has a chance to take root, "and a sense of vigilance in case it threatens to do so," he said. "We must give them the courage and tools they need to make the right choices, and to act in the face of evil."
Mr. Ban also refuted Holocaust deniers. "To those who claim that the Holocaust never happened, or has been exaggerated, we respond by reiterating our determination to honour the memory of every innocent man, woman and child murdered at the hands of the Nazis and their accomplices," he said.
"We mourn the systematic genocide of one third of the Jewish people, along with members of other minorities, which deprived the world of untold contributions."
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour said the Day provides the international community with a sober moment of reflection and remembrance. "We can truly honor the victims of the Holocaust by pursuing all efforts to extend the real protection of international human rights law to all those who fall victim to its violations."
By honouring the memory of those who fell victims to the most "horrendous manifestations of discrimination, hatred and intolerance," she said the international community reaffirms their dignity as human beings, and its collective failure to protect them.
In the face of continued manifestations of anti-Semitism, "this Day is a call on the world's conscience and a reminder of the acute necessity to confront intolerance, bigotry, prejudice, ignorance and hatred, early and unequivocally."
On Saturday, the President of the UN General Assembly said the Day must serve as a global call to action to prevent future carnage. "For the dignity of all humanity, we must strengthen our ability, our collective resolve, to prevent such atrocities, whenever and wherever they might occur," Srgjan Kerim told congregants at the Park East Synagogue in Manhattan.
Numerous activities are scheduled to be held this week in connection with the Day, including a concert and a joint exhibition, "The Holocaust: Stories of Rescue" at UN Headquarters in New York.
In 2005, the General Assembly designated 27 January, the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp, as an annual International Day of Commemoration to honour the victims of the Holocaust, and urged Member States to develop educational programmes to instill the memory of the tragedy in future generations.