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Human rights mandate Swiss chair International Holocaust Alliance

Handover ceremony in Berlin. Benno Bättig (second from right, next to Christine Schraner Burgener, Swiss ambassador to Germany) has taken over from Romania's Mihnea Constantinescu (right). Italy's ambassador (left) will succeed Bättig in 2018


Switzerland has taken over the chairmanship of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) for the next year.

At a ceremony in Berlin on Tuesday, the head of the Swiss delegation to the IHRA, Bruno Bättig, pledged that Switzerland would try to “to reach young people and to ensure that the past remains part of the present”.

He said it was increasingly difficult to keep alive the memory of the Holocaust as the number of Holocaust survivors is getting smaller every year.

Using modern communications technology including social media, Switzerland wants to “convey knowledge about the Holocaust to young people and to bear in remembrance the crimes committed by the Nazi regime against Jews, Roma, Sinti and other minorities,” according to a foreign ministry statement.

“It is our responsibility and duty to give young people, who are citizens of the future, the skills to distinguish between what is important and what is not, as well as between reality and the virtual world,” Bättig said.

He also stressed that the mandate is based on Switzerland’s values and respect for human rights.

Under the Swiss chairmanship, international seminars, conferences and a plenary meeting of the IHRA will take place in Geneva, Lausanne and the capital, Bern.

Switzerland has been a member of the IHRA since 2004. The intergovernmental organisation with 31 members aims to promote research and education about the Holocaust. with additional reporting by Petra Krimphove, Berlin

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