The press release issued by the Foreign Office on 7 December 2023.
Ambassador Neil Holland welcomes the address by the Personal Representatives, and underlines the UK’s commitment to defending freedom of religion or belief.
Rabbi Baker and Dr Polack, welcome back to the Permanent Council, and thank you for your statements.
The UK remains committed to defending freedom of religion or belief for all, and promoting respect between different religious and non-religious communities. Protecting and promoting these freedoms is one of the UK’s longstanding human rights commitments, and is at the heart of our shared OSCE principles.
Hand-in-hand with any commitment to protecting freedom of religion or belief must come a commitment to tackling intolerance, discrimination, and hatred – not only on the basis of religion or belief, but in all of its repugnant forms. Our ‘Inclusive Britain’ action plan supports us in doing this through its three-pronged approach of boosting confidence in our institutions, advancing equality of opportunity, and fostering greater belonging.
One of the greatest challenges we currently face on this front is the chilling and unprecedented rise in antisemitism that we are witnessing across the world. Sadly, hate crime has surged globally since the barbaric attacks against Israeli civilians by Hamas on 7 October. That one of the many terrible consequences of this attack has been a wave of antisemitism is baffling and deplorable.
The UK is clear: antisemitism is evil and has no place in our – or any – society. We stand with the Jewish community, and we will never waiver in our fight against the scourge of antisemitism. The UK Government is proud to have been the first country to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism in 2016.
In tandem with our work to tackle antisemitism, the UK is committed to international co-operation to promote education, remembrance, and research about the Holocaust. As one of the founding signatories of the Stockholm Declaration, we pledged that the terrible events of the Holocaust would remain forever seared in our collective memory.
The UK has the privilege of taking on the presidency of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) in March 2024. The theme of our presidency will be “In Plain Sight”, drawing attention to the fact that the Holocaust did not happen unseen. It will highlight the nature of society that allowed the murder of six million Jewish men, women and children, shine a spotlight on all of those who had a part to play, and explore the circumstances that led to the Holocaust.
We will focus on promoting remembrance of the Holocaust and safeguarding the narrative for future generations. In particular, we hope to reach thousands of young people across the IHRA’s member states during our presidency, and help them to learn and understand the truth about the terrible atrocities that took place in their hometowns.
We must also recognise and address the continued rise of Holocaust distortion and the impact of new technologies upon it. During our presidency and in cooperation with the OSCE, we will bring together a range of experts – from fields including AI and social media. We will explore how to tackle distortion, including how to counter the threats posed by deepfake technology and disinformation online.
As you have both made clear, the consequences of intolerance, discrimination and hatred are all too evident. Our OSCE commitments provide us with the tools we need. We must, together, tackle this scourge, and promote inclusive societies that respect freedom of religion or belief.
Thank you, Rabbi Baker and Dr Polack for being with us today and for all your work over the year.