The issues that fall under the IHRA’s mandate are complex and represent common challenges that do not stop at national borders. In order to sufficiently address issues related to the Holocaust and the genocide of the Roma, international cooperation among experts, civil society and governments is necessary. Working definitions and charters, important practical educational tools that help raise awareness of key issues related to the Holocaust and the genocide of Roma, help facilitate and guide this work in the IHRA.
Working Definition of Antisemitism
The IHRA is the only intergovernmental organization mandated to focus solely on Holocaust-related issues, so with evidence that the scourge of antisemitism is once again on the rise, they have resolved to take a leading role in combating it. But to begin to address the problem of antisemitism, there must be clarity about what antisemitism is.
The experts in the IHRA’s Committee on Antisemitism and Holocaust Denial built international consensus around a non-legally binding working definition of antisemitism, which was then adopted by the Plenary. By doing so, the IHRA set an example of responsible conduct for other international fora and provided an important practical tool for its Member Countries.
The working definition has empowered many to address this rise in hate and discrimination at their national levels. Countering antisemitism today also means countering Holocaust distortion.
Working Definition of Holocaust Denial and Distortion
The IHRA’s Member Countries adopted the working definition of Holocaust denial and distortion by consensus at the IHRA’s Plenary meeting in Toronto on 10 October 2013.
This working definition was developed by IHRA experts in the Committee on Antisemitism and Holocaust Denial in cooperation with the IHRA’s governmental representatives for use as a practical working tool.
The working definition of Holocaust denial and distortion has laid the foundation for further resources on recognizing and countering Holocaust denial and distortion, including an action-oriented toolkit, the #ProtectTheFacts campaign, policy recommendations, a lecture by IHRA Honorary Chair Professor Yehuda Bauer, a short film, a publication, and a paper.
It has also inspired action outside the IHRA. The United Nation’s General Assembly, for example, made use of the working definition in its Resolution A/76/L.30, which condemned denial and distortion of the Holocaust and commended the IHRA for its work. The resolution was adopted on 20 January 2022, the anniversary of the Wannsee Conference.
Working Definition of antigypsyism/anti-Roma discrimination
The effort to draft a working definition of antigypsyism/anti-Roma discrimination was spearheaded by experts in the Committee on the Genocide of the Roma in consultation with representatives of civil society. The IHRA adopted this non-legally binding working definition by consensus in an extraordinary Heads of Delegation meeting on 8 October 2020.