The Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) has congratulated the Australian Government following Australia’s admission as a full member of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).
“This is the final, momentous step in a long and drawn out process which involved a number of individuals making significant efforts towards achieving a result which will benefit both Australia and IHRA” Jeremy Jones, AIJAC’s Director of International and Community Affairs, said today.
AIJAC Executive Director Dr. Colin Rubenstein added, “We are grateful for the ongoing efforts over decades of several different Australian governments in pursuing and finally achieving this highly valuable outcome – placing Australia among the world leaders in Holocaust education. Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Foreign Minister Senator Marise Payne deserve special recognition for seeing this process through to a positive conclusion.”
“As Senator Payne noted in her media release on the move, Australia can bring a ‘unique perspective on Holocaust education and remembrance’ to the alliance, given the ‘large number of Holocaust survivors’ who were invited to come to Australia ‘in the aftermath of World War II,'” Rubenstein went on to say.
Australia was actively involved in the Stockholm International Forum on the Holocaust in January 2000, which brought together high ranking political leaders and officials as well as a range of representatives of civil society, including Holocaust survivors and Jewish leaders, from over 40 countries. That Forum produced the Declaration which is the basis of IHRA’s commitment to Holocaust education, remembrance and research.
Australia’s delegation in Stockholm was led by then-Ambassador to Sweden, His Excellency Stephen Brady and included then-President of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, Nina Bassat, and Jeremy Jones from AIJAC.
The first formal participation by an Australian Government at a working meeting of the IHRA was in Jerusalem in 2010, when Australia was a guest of the pro tem Conference Chair, Israel. Australia’s delegation at that meeting was led by Ambassador Andrea Faulkner and again included Jeremy Jones.
In recent years Australia has gone through the stages of Observer and then Liaison status and is now the 33rd State to achieve full IHRA membership. Most IHRA members are European, but Australia will be joining Argentina, Canada, Israel and the United States as members from outside that continent.
Over the past four years, the Australian effort has been accelerated with strong delegations of academics and experts, participating together with foreign affairs officials.
“Achieving full membership of the IHRA required diligence and devotion by the Australian Government and recognition of the skills of the expert team which Australia has sent to recent meetings,” Jones concluded.