10th anniversary of the adoption of the IHRA Working Definition on Holocaust Denial and Distortion

The first priority of the Croatian Presidency will be the marking of the tenth anniversary of the IHRA’s Working definition on Holocaust denial and distortion. This definition, adopted by the Alliance during the Toronto Plenary, is one of the IHRA’s greatest tools and is central to the IHRA Strategy for 2018 until 2024.

The working definition was developed by IHRA experts in cooperation with the IHRA’s governmental representatives for use as a practical working tool, and has laid the foundation for further resources on recognizing and countering Holocaust denial and distortion including the #ProtectTheFacts campaign, as well as the United Nation’s General Assembly Resolution from 2022, which condemned denial and distortion of the Holocaust and commended.

The definition is an expression of the awareness that Holocaust denial and distortion have to be challenged and denounced nationally and internationally. While acknowledging aspects of the Holocaust as factual, Holocaust denial is any attempt to negate the established facts of the Nazi genocide of European Jews. Holocaust denial and distortion are forms of antisemitism, prejudice against or hatred of Jews, claiming that the Holocaust was invented or exaggerated by Jews in order to advance Jewish interests. These views perpetuate long-standing antisemitic stereotypes, hateful beliefs that helped lay the groundwork for the Holocaust. Holocaust denial, distortion, and misuse all undermine the truth and our understanding of history.

At the Zagreb Plenary, Croatia aims to present an IHRA-wide Statement on the successes of this definition, thus continuing one of the priorities of the German IHRA Presidency. The Recommendations for Recognizing and Countering Holocaust Distortion are a living document and now we need to decide how to monitor and enforce countering distortion, in all our societies and in the digital space. This is especially important in light of recent disinformation and rise in extreme antisemitism, which amounts to Holocaust denial.

Strengthening the IHRA’s Procedures and Effectiveness

Success of the Swedish IHRA Presidency was to strengthen the IHRA by securing a new financial model. Now that the issue of funding has been resolved and as the IHRA starts a new chapter, the Croatian Presidency will undertake the remaining item in terms of internal strengthening of the Alliance. In 2016, an independent evaluation report of the IHRA’s achievements provided ten recommendations, all of which were endorsed and adopted by the Iasi Plenary in 2016. Of the ten recommendations adopted, the last item that needs to be completed is Strengthening the IHRA’s Procedures and Effectiveness. However, it should not be confused with governance reform.