Education as the primary factor in preventing all forms of racism and discrimination was the main focus of a high-level event organized by UNESCO at the 73rd United Nations General Assembly today. Through the lens of its program to prevent anti-Semitism, UNESCO sought to mobilize Member States’ commitment in the fight against all forms of intolerance and to strengthen the organization’s overall efforts to prevent racism and discrimination.
In her remarks opening the session on The power of education to prevent racism and discrimination: the case of anti-Semitism, Director-General Audrey Azoulay highlighted the importance of working as one: “this requires the mobilization of all member states”, she said, “and education is the best tool at our disposal to prevent all forms of intolerance and discrimination and to ensure equal respect for every woman and man,” adding “antisemitism undermines fundamental rights in general. To address it is to defend fundamental freedoms. It is to defend the equal dignity of all human beings.”
In the presence of Antonio Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations, the event included the participation of the Prime Minister of Morocco, Saadeddine Othmani, and Ministers representing Argentina, Australia, Bulgaria, France, Hungary, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, and the United Kingdom. Several hundred government officials and senior representatives of civil society organizations were also in attendance. Ronald S. Lauder, President of the World Jewish Congress, also delivered a speech. Professor Deborah Lipstadt, of the Modern Jewish History and Holocaust Studies program at Emory University and Mina Abdelmalak, Arab Outreach Specialist at the Initiative on Holocaust Denial and Antisemitism of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum were also among the speakers.
UNESCO’s extensive work in the field of preventing violent extremism through education has included publications such as Guidelines for Educators on Countering Intolerance and Discrimination against Muslims and co-publishing earlier this year with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the first-ever policy guidelines on Addressing anti-Semitism through education.
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