Holocaust » Overview

Overview

Over the last half century a great many programs on Holocaust education and initiatives on Holocaust remembrance have been launched and continue to be implemented in countries primarily located in Europe and North America and Israel, most of whom are members of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). However, little is known about programs and initiatives on the subject outside of IHRA.

Salzburg Global Seminar, together with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, seeks to bring greater awareness of Holocaust education and remembrance programs in other countries with the objective of fostering dialogue, promoting tolerance, and providing a knowledge-sharing resource platform.

“I am honoured to have been associated with this project since its inception in 2009. Working together, the Seminar and the Museum have brought together scholars, educators and policy makers from different academic disciplines, and from many different parts of the world, to consider how far, and in what ways, education about the Holocaust and other genocides can actually contribute to the prevention of further such tragedies in the future.”

- Kofi Annan

Visit the country profile pages for more detailed  information.
For information on Holocaust education around the world, please download:

GLOBAL PERSPECTIVES ON HOLOCAUST EDUCATION: Trends, Patterns, and Practices, a publication of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and Salzburg Global Seminar, 2013

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Living Arts in Post Conflict Contexts Forum: Practices, Partnerships, Possibilities
Tuol Sleng Museum - picture by Phalinn Ooi
Living Arts in Post Conflict Contexts Forum: Practices, Partnerships, Possibilities
Patrick Wilson 
A landmark collaboration with Cambodian Living Arts and Salzburg Global Seminar Living Arts in Post Conflict Contexts Forum: Practices, Partnerships, Possibilities took place between March 10 to 12 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The three day event, sponsored by the Prince Claus Fund for Culture and Development, connected arts activators and change makers from twenty countries and drew together insights from Salzburg Global's multi-year programs on Culture, the Arts and Society, Holocaust Education and Genocide Prevention, and the Young Cultural Innovators Forum.  Just over 40 years ago, the Khmer Rouge regime launched its genocidal regime in which nearly 2 million Cambodians died – including 90% of the artists working in the country. In 2016, with 60% of the country’s population under 25, Cambodia’s first post-genocide generation has the opportunity to work with and through the arts to rebuild community, renew unique cultural traditions, and foster resilience and economic innovation. This three-day workshop addressed critical challenges faced by many countries during and after mass atrocities by exploring ways to overcome mistrust, preserve heritage and collective identity, and build supportive partnerships with government and other organizations.  Participants created the basis for an international network of advocates using the arts to transform pre and post conflict societies, advanced the notion of culture as a vehicle for peace and promoted dialogue as a driver for inclusive development. In addition to the workshop, Salzburg Global hosted a special evening event at Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum entitled "Place of Memory." The museum is a former high school where some 17,000 people were imprisoned and tortured during the Khmer Rouge regime from its rise to power in 1975 to its fall in 1979. Panelists, including Salzburg Global Vice President and Chief Program Officer Claire Shine, guided discussions that were informed by Salzburg Global's highly-respected work on Holocaust and Genocide education and remembrance, through which we have built a major international network to foster dialogue, promote tolerance, and share knowledge and resources. Both Salzburg Global and Cambodia Living Arts will be posting more information on our respective sites and are proud to have partnered together to create a means of dialogue and networking to aid conflict transformation and avoid the mistakes of our pasts. For more information see: www.salzburgglobal.org/go/Fellow56
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International Holocaust Remembrance Day Commemorated by Fellows
International Holocaust Remembrance Day Commemorated by Fellows
Patrick Wilson 

Today marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day to commemorate victims of the Nazi-led genocide which resulted in the estimated deaths of 6 million Jews, 2 million Romani, 250,000 of both mentally and physically handicapped people and 9,000 homosexual men. 

The commemoration marks the day in 1945 that the largest Nazi death camp, Auschwitz-Birkenau, was liberated by Soviet troops.

In partnership with the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, Salzburg Global Seminar has hosted several sessions dedicated to Holocaust Education and Genocide Prevention. Fellows of Holocaust and Genocide Education: Sharing Experience Across Bordersthe most recent session in the multi-year series, will join with many other people across the world to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

In Ecuador, Sol Paz de Hecht, coordinator of the Manuel Antonio Muñoz Borrero Center for the Study of the Holocaust, Human Rights and Recent Genocides (MAMB), will mark the day through an event hosted together with the Jewish community of Ecuador, the Israeli Embassy, the Albert Einstein School in Quito, the Universidad de Las Américas and the United Nations System in Ecuador. The event will be livestreamed today starting at 16:30 CET at this link: www.udla.edu.ec/eventoslive 

Fumiko Ishioka, director of the Tokyo Holocaust Education Resource Centre, and her team have been working on several events over the past weeks. In Tokyo, an event was hosted with 70 university students around the UN-led theme "The Holocaust and Human Dignity." They were joined by Holocaust survivor Janos Cegledy from Budapest, Hungary who has lived in Tokyo for 30 years. He had originally been contacted by the Centre in 1998 but didn’t wish to speak about his experiences, however after 18 years he finally agreed to join and share his experiences with the students.

Cegledy joined with the students for a viewing of the international award-winning Hungarian film Son of Saul. The 2015 film portrays a Hungarian-Jewish prisoner in Auschwitz who works as a Sonderkommando member, the prisoners in charge of burning the dead, and his attempts to find a Rabbi to give the body of a young boy a clandestine burial. You can view pictures and read more about the event at this link: npokokoro.wix.com/auschwitz71#!2015/c1mp6

Ishioka also travelled to the US for several events. The Centre's educational program Hana’s Suitcase had its stage production premiere in Seattle. The production, written by Emil Sher, documents the history and discovery by Ishioka of the historical relic. She will also be giving a talk at the University of Washington where she is to receive a Distinguished Service Award for her work on Holocaust education. In Seattle, Ishioka was joined by an Auschwitz survivor and Hana's brother, George Brady, for a live Google Hangout session. The whole stream of the conversation can be viewed here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=RoPR-IIdEIQ

Further to these events in the US and Japan, Ishioka is leading a study group tour to Europe, spending 11 days visiting Warsaw, Krakow, Auschwitz, Prague, Vienna, and Amsterdam. Ishioka hopes to share some of the experiences and knowledge acquired from past Salzburg Global sessions with the group when they arrive in Austria.

In South Africa, Salzburg Global Fellow Tali Nates, director of the Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre, in collaboration with the United Nations Information Centre, the Cape Town Holocaust Center and the Ditsong National Museum of Military History, will host a presentation by Professor Dina Porat on The Individual in Historic Turning Points: Abba Kovner and Lithuanian Jewry as a Test Case on January 27 in Johannesburg. Ahead of this event, the Johannesburg Centre also held a special education event this morning for 250 Grade 9 learners from underprivileged schools, also around the year's theme of "The Holocaust and Human Dignity."

In addition to her work in commemorating the Holocaust, Nates also contributed a chapter to “God, Faith & Identity from the Ashes in The Holocaust in History and Memory” last year.


You can view information and interviews from our past Session on Holocaust Education and Genocide Prevention here: www.salzburgglobal.org/go/535 Further information on the multi-year series is available here: holocaust.salzburgglobal.org

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Report now online International Responses to Crimes Against Humanity - The Challenge of North Korea
Report now online International Responses to Crimes Against Humanity - The Challenge of North Korea
Salzburg Global Seminar staff 
The report from the Salzburg Global symposium International Responses to Crimes Against Humanity: The Challenge of North Korea, part of the Salzburg Initiative on Holocaust Education and Genocide Prevention is now available is now available online to read, download and share. In June 2015, Salzburg Global Seminar, with support from the National Endowment for Democracy and the Open Society Foundation, convened the symposium in Salzburg to address how the international community should respond to the crimes against humanity perpetrated in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, or North Korea). As this newly published report shows, there is no consensus on what should be done – neither about what is most likely to bring about positive change for the people of North Korea “today”, nor about how to provide a modicum of justice for the millions of victims, whether living or already perished. These goals, while intertwined, often lead to rather different opinions on what is most likely to be effective. Among the diverse experts that convened for the Salzburg symposium, there was a broad range of opinion spread across a continuum of possible actions from a very strong accountability stance to one that gives priority to engagement and cooperation. The report seeks to provide a summary of many of the key points raised, highlight the diverse perspectives expressed, and reflect the range of strategies discussed, without suggesting there was unanimity around any of the recommendations or cataloging a complete record of the very deep and complex discussions that were held. This is a glimpse, at best, into the range of issues and opinions that were examined and shared over a very intense five day gathering – but one that can help elucidate core challenges related to the case of the DPRK and highlight various concrete strategies that are being, or could be, adopted in an effort to improve the lives of people living in North Korea. Download the report as a PDF

Salzburg Global Seminar is grateful to our program partners, the National Endowment for Democracy and the Open Society Foundation, and our other partners for their generous support of Session 556 and to the Citizens Alliance for North Korean Human Rights for their programmatic co-operation.
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Mark Tokola - Three Dilemmas of Dealing with North Korea
Mark Tokola - Three Dilemmas of Dealing with North Korea
Mark Tokola 
This article was first published on the Korea Economic Institute's blog Short conversations about North Korea generally end with similar conclusions: it is too soon to tell whether Kim Jong-un has successfully entrenched himself; the North Korean economy whether by design or necessity has introduced some market elements; China is growing impatient with North Korea’s unpredictability and belligerency; and Kim Jung-un’s regime is even more brutal and repressive than his father’s. The level of purges and numbers of executions is unprecedented, even for North Korea. The regime’s fixation with building amusement parks while much of its population goes malnourished is the epitome of how far a dictator can place whims above necessities. That much, at least, attracts a consensus of opinion. It takes a longer conversation to reveal the fault-lines and seams in opinion among experts regarding what should be done in regard to North Korea. There is a weight of opinion, but without unanimity, that urgency is beginning to ratchet up. The DPRK’s nuclear and missile programs are closer to producing weapons which can threaten other countries. In truth, Seoul has been within the range of North Korean artillery for decades, but longer-range North Korean weaponry carrying nuclear warheads would alter broader, strategic equations regardless whether they could reach the United States. The United Nations Commission of Inquiry (COI) report on human rights violations in North Korea is making it increasingly difficult for the international community to avert its eyes from the regime’s widespread and systematic abuses of its own people, which are likely to be counted as crimes against humanity. The prospect of unification of the Korean peninsula is being discussed more seriously than it has been for years. The most surprising outcome of the change that seems to be in the air would be if the situation on the Korean peninsula remained as it is for another generation. Hence, the need to talk about North Korea with increasing seriousness. Two such longer conversations about North Korea were held first, at the June 2-6 Salzburg Global Seminar on “International Responses to Crimes Against Humanity: The Challenge of North Korea,” and second, at the Annual Conference of the International Council on Korean Studies (ICKS) held at Georgetown University from June 25-26 on “Unification of the Korean Peninsula: Issues and Opportunities.” The Salzburg Seminar was held under the Chatham House rule and therefore remarks by the participants are not to be publicly attributed to them without their permission, but what they discussed can be shared. Confidentiality was necessary in order to have a free-flowing and frank conversation among the government and private sector experts who attended the seminar. The Seminar ended with an agreed public statement outlining specific steps that should be taken by governments, private organizations, and concerned individuals to improve the human rights situation in North Korea. The ICKS conference by contrast was a public meeting and will be made available on the KEI website. During long conversations among experts on North Korea, three questions often surface, the answers to which have practical consequences: Is it better to engage North Korea or to isolate it? Is there a choice to be made regarding whether to prioritize North Korea’s strategic threat or its human rights record? And, which is the higher goal, peace or justice? The answer to each of the questions may be “It depends,” “That is a false choice,” or “This isn’t black and white, the best policy lies along a spectrum.” In any case, the questions are not ones that can be ignored. Engagement or Isolation? If the goal is to change North Korea’s behavior, is that more likely to come about through interacting with the North Korean government, or through refusing to have anything to do with it until its behavior changes? The answers depends upon a series of further, refining questions: are we talking about government-to-government, diplomatic engagement? humanitarian assistance and other NGO engagement? or people-to-people engagement (and is that even possible with a country as totalitarian as North Korea)? The question of diplomatic engagement already seems to have an answer. Both the South Korean and U.S. governments have said that they are willing to engage in talks with North Korea. President Park says she is prepared to hold talks without preconditions, but rejects North Korea’s requirement that U.S.-ROK military exercises be cancelled before it is willing to meet. North Korea has called for “unconditional” talks with the U.S. but then conditioned the unconditional talks by saying that they would have to be held without reference to North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. In essence, the path is open for diplomatic engagement should North Korea choose to take it. Demanding that South Korea end its military exercise while continuing to conduct its own, and insisting that the U.S. abandon its primary objective, getting North Korea to abide by the international obligations it undertook regarding its nuclear program, seem to show a lack of enthusiasm for diplomacy on North Korea’s part. An alternative might be to make unilateral gestures towards North Korea in hope that North Korea might respond positively. It seems likely, however, that the Kim Jung-un government is not firmly enough on its feet to be able to respond to concessions, whether a reduction in sanctions or a pause in U.S.-ROK military exercises. Absent a signal from Pyongyang that it was truly interested in a negotiation, a unilateral concession from Seoul or Washington would only reduce the number of bargaining chips available for future talks, making them more difficult. For organizations that provide or might provide assistance to North Koreans, there are serious practical and ethical questions regarding their unavoidable interaction with the North Korean government. On one hand, the humanitarian need for nutritional supplements and medicine is great. The cost of saving a life in North Korea is less than in other struggling countries because the base line is so low. On the other, does providing assistance merely serve to extend the life of an abhorrent regime? Do outside resources allow it to channel its resources to prison camps and nuclear weapons programs? One NGO has given up and pulled out of North Korea. The problem was not that its resources were being diverted to the government, but that the government was controlling the population that the NGO in question was serving. The government in effect chose the people whom the NGO would help. The people being served were needy, but not the neediest or most vulnerable population in North Korea. Because the baseline principle of the organization was that it would serve those most in need of assistance, it deemed that it could not continue. Other organizations have decided otherwise, that providing assistance to anyone in need was worth doing if possible. There are other considerations in deciding whether to engage with humanitarian assistance or not. One is the theory of “feeding the executioner.” The idea is that if the international community did not provide assistance to the needy in North Korea, neither would the North Korean government. Belief that Pyongyang would fill the gap left by decisions of NGOs not to operate in North Korea is naïve. In fact, the DPRK government would be more likely to extract what it could from its most vulnerable populations to support its programs rather than to assist them. If everyone has enough food, the government will not have to take any from the people to give to the ruling class and army. If everyone has too little, the government will take what it can from the population. Providing humanitarian assistance, therefore, prevents the DPRK from further preying on its own people. Finally there is the notion of investing in the future through humanitarian assistance. Providing help to the people of North Korea now will make unification of the peninsula easier when it occurs. A healthier, better-educated North Korean population will be easier to accommodate into a unified Korea than one that is stunted and unable to work. In the end, everyone has to decide for themselves whether their engagement with North Korea is a good idea and what compromises they are prepared to make to achieve their goals. The term “principled engagement” is often used. Even people-to-people engagement is a tougher calculation than we would all wish. It would be nice to think that all contacts that can be arranged with North Koreans — whether government officials, sports figures, or artists – are bound at least to give them a better impression of us, and at most to raise questions in their minds about the state of their own country and whether it might be different. That may even be true. However, there is another side to the argument. The costs of people-to-people engagements may be that they give the North Korean government propaganda points to argue to their own people that the Kim Jong-un regime is indeed internationally accepted and admired. Second, the DPRK has complete control over who gets to participate in people-to-people programs. If they are being used to reward the party faithful, does that make them little more than treats which can be dispensed to maintain loyalty to the regime? There is no easy answer.

The Strategic Threat versus Human Rights

So long at the DPRK argues that it will never abandon its nuclear weapons program and that its population enjoys the world’s highest level of human rights, there is no reason not to press the DPRK on both issues. It should abide by its commitments to not pursue nuclear weaponry and should accept the UN COI recommendations on how to put an end to its abuses of the rights of its citizens. It could, and should, do both. However, it is possible to imagine a different situation. What if the DPRK expressed a willingness to engage in negotiations on its nuclear program, but only if the international community would stop trying to undermine the government by charging it with human rights violations? Why would members of a government who were being threatened with being sent to the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity agree to negotiate with their prosecutors? Being afraid to travel for fear of being arrested would make protracted negotiations impossible. This is a dilemma that posits a situation different from the one we are in with North Korea, but among the DPRK’s few international defenders, there are voices who argue that the choice is already upon us. We should accept right now the DPRK as a sovereign, “normal,” state rather than treating it as an outlaw. Sanctions should be ended and serious negotiations should begin to reduce regional tensions. After all, they argue, the greatest violation of human rights would be general warfare on the Korean peninsula rather than the selective if unfortunate actions by the DPRK against disruptive individuals in its quest to maintain domestic order. One argument that may tip the balance towards those who argue that accountability for crimes against humanity cannot be negotiated away is the weight of international opinion. The Six Party Talks have six parties because they (South Korea, North Korea, the U.S., Russia, and China) have the dominant stake in the strategic stability of the peninsula. The circle of countries who have an interest in human rights is far broader. It should be possible to enlist democracies such as India, South Africa, Brazil, and others in an international effort to pressure North Korea to improve its human rights situation. Not only North Korea, but its chief patron, China, have shown sensitivity to wider international opinion beyond what the U.S. and its close allies have to say. The human rights situation in North Korea is, or should be, a global concern. That is reason enough to keep it on the agenda with North Korea.

Peace or Justice?

The call usually goes up for peace and justice, but what if they are not compatible in regard to North Korea? This dilemma is similar to that of strategic threat versus human rights, but different. It most likely would surface in regard to unification. Under any unification scenario (usually boiled down to peaceful and negotiated, or following a collapse of the DPRK) it will be necessary to deal with the crimes against humanity that have been committed by North Korean authorities. Will the priority be to quickly reach a peaceful situation by giving amnesty to those who might otherwise resist unification, or to give justice its chance to do its slower work to determine crime and punishment? In the longer term, will the many North Korean mid and low-level authorities be given the right to resume positions of authority in a unified Korea, or will they be forever excluded? Peace may argue one answer, justice another. The UN’s COI report is legally correct in its carefully worded finding of “reasonable grounds to establish that crimes against humanity have been committed.” The rule of law requires that the facts and judgment be weighed through a trial process, not though a presumption of guilt. The “reasonable grounds” are strong enough that the COI recommends a Security Council referral to the International Criminal Court, but the report is light on naming names or identifying institutions of those who should be tried. It is for this reason that a UNHCHR Field Office began operating in Seoul this June. Its purpose is to collect evidence for use in future prosecutions, whether international, Korea, or hybrid. There is much to be decided in regards to eventually holding North Korean authorities accountable for crimes committed by the regime. Which authorities, at what level, and with what degree of culpability should be tried and for what crimes? This is an issue that will need to be decided primarily by the unified Korea, but the international community also has a stake in the prosecution of crimes against humanity. The Nuremburg trials, and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) are examples, if imperfect models, of how justice might be done. Other countries that have emerged from conflict have opted for ‘peace and reconciliation commissions,’ to make sense of what they have been through. Maybe in the case of Korea both will be needed: criminal trials to establish guilt among those most responsible for the human rights abuses, and peace and reconciliation organizations to help all Koreans come to terms with living in a shared Korea. One future benefit of the justice system is that it will establish a common, evidence-based history of Korea from 1954 to the date of unification. In the case of Yugoslavia, the ICTY has created an invaluable collection of first-person, sworn testimony offered by all sides that will help settle future disagreements about the true story of their tragic recent history. One of the problems in dealing with the ongoing tensions in Northern Ireland is that there is no common historic database of fact shared by the unionists and the nationalists, leaving each with its own version of history. The court records of the Korean human rights trials, when they come, will help people come to terms with their past better than any government-organized, official history. Well-informed, well-intentioned people can disagree over how to deal with North Korea. Discussing the common dilemmas can help them make their individual decisions. The stakes are high. Today’s decisions on engagement immediately affect the lives of people living in North Korea. Coming to terms in advance with the issues that will follow unification will increase the odds that the process of unification will be less costly and painful than might otherwise be the case. Unification of the peninsula will improve the lives of millions. The process of getting there will require the best that South Korea and her allies can do.
Mark Tokola is the Vice President of the Korea Economic Institute of America and was a Fellow of the Salzburg Global Seminar session International Responses to Crimes Against Humanity: The Challenge of North Korea, which is part of Salzburg Global Seminar’s multi-year program on Holocaust Education and Genocide Prevention. The views expressed here are his own.
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Michael Kirby - "I hope a time will come when human rights are truly respected in North Korea"
Michael Kirby - "I hope a time will come when human rights are truly respected in North Korea"
Rachitaa Gupta 
Following the release of the United Nations Commission of Inquiry (COI) report on Human Rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), Salzburg Global held a symposium, chaired by Michael Kirby, on International Responses to Crimes Against Humanity: The Challenge of North Korea. Michael Kirby was appointed the chair of the United Nations Human Rights Council's COI on Human Rights in DPRK in 2013, and in 2014 along with other members, Marzuki Darusman, and Sonja Biserko, he published a report with the findings and recommendations of the COI, after having interviewed over 80 witnesses. Kirby spoke to Salzburg Global on the impact of the report, international response to it, and the role the international community can now play in dealing with the human rights violations in the DPRK. "The COI report has made a difference, because if you look at the relations of DPRK with the United Nations and the international community over the past 30-40 years, it’s basically been one of non-engagement. Since the COI report has been delivered, not only has North Korea begun to engage, in particular with the process of the universal periodical review, which is conducted by the Human Rights Council (HRC), but it has also engaged in a so-called charm offensive," said Kirby. According to Kirby, before being appointed as the chair of the COI, he had very limited information about the human rights violation in the DPRK and after having spoken to the witnesses, he was glad for the existence of the UN and its commitment to hold people responsible for crimes against humanity accountable. "It came to me as a terrible shock and surprise to uncover the horrible crimes against humanity which were recorded in the testimonies of the witnesses who gave evidence before the COI. It was a very unpleasant, upsetting, distressing time in my life. However, at least I know that the UN exists and hopefully will render accountable those who are proven to be responsible for crimes against humanity. That’s the big difference between the world before 1945 when the charter of the UN was adopted and after 1945 in which we now live and work." Kirby believes that the good thing about COI report was that it not only forced the DPRK in to action but has also geared the international community in to responding to the situation in North Korea. "We have now reached a point in the United Nations system, where almost everything we asked for has been achieved. What we have got to do now is translate these steps in to action of the international community relating to North Korea. And that is not going to be done by whispered conversations in great halls. It is going to be done by civil societies, diplomats, international organizations and policy makers coming together to engage North Korea." He also expressed his appreciation for the Salzburg Global symposium and its process to encourage people from different fields to interact and work cohesively to develop an action plan that can inspire their work in the advancement of the protection of human rights in the DPRK and the quest for accountability. "It brought together people from different backgrounds: some were civil society people, others were experienced diplomats, and some had experience in international law. It was an opportunity for different points to be expressed and for strategies to be proposed that could be considered by the institutions and organizations which the participants came from. It can also bring attention of the world community to the report and insist on follow up." Michael Kirby, a long time Fellow at Salzburg Global, hoped that the work on the human rights issue in the DPRK will continue even after the end of the symposium and that the next time he comes to Salzburg Global for another session on the North Korea, he would hear good news on the issue. "There have not been any developments in the past 70 years on the human rights in North Korea, but I hope a time will come, when there will be a Salzburg Global Seminar [program] that reports on human rights truly being respected in North Korea." Read the full Salzburg Statement on International Responses to Crimes Against Humanity: The Challenge of North Korea.
The symposium on International Responses to Crimes against Humanity: The Challenge of North Korea continues Salzburg Global Seminar's commitment to Justice issues, including international law, human rights and genocide prevention.
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Kofi A. Annan,  Secretary-General of the United Nations, 1997-2006

Honorary President, Salzburg Initiative on Holocaust Education and Genocide Prevention