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“Strengthening Global Efforts to Combat Antisemitism: A Human Rights Imperative”
Remarks by Ambassador Michèle Taylor at a Side Event at the 54th Session of the UN Human Rights Council
September 13, 2023

“Strengthening Global Efforts to Combat Antisemitism: A Human Rights Imperative”

Side Event at the 54th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

Ambassador Michèle Taylor Remarks As Prepared for Delivery

Ladies and gentlemen, esteemed colleagues, and friends, here both in person and online, thank you for joining our side event on Strengthening Global Efforts to Combat Antisemitism: A true Human Rights Imperative.

We are here today to talk about antisemitism, but we can only do so within the broader context of discrimination, because all forms of hate are interconnected.

In my life,  I have been spat on, called a “stupid, ignorant kike” to my face, and thrown out of stores;  I have faced the unwarranted wrath of exclusion simply for being who I am: a Jew. And yet, these personal affronts did not fully prepare me for the unexpected and profound irony of  encountering  antisemitism right here in Geneva, the birthplace of the United Nations. At the residence, a place that should be a safe-haven, I received a chilling written antisemitic death threat. And I have had to bear antisemitic remarks from members of more than one delegation right here in the halls of  an institution born out of the Holocaust, the very genocide that robbed me of an extended family and threatened my own existence. It is a chilling reminder of the insidiousness of prejudice and both the depths and breadths it can reach.

There is, none-the-less profound significance in the fact that we are gathering today here in Geneva. It is thenexus ofUnited Nations’ human rights endeavors, with the influential presence of 179 governments and over 750 NGOs. It serves as a global beacon for upholding the rights and dignity of all. It is here, in this city, that we carry the onus of representing the highest aspirations of humanity. But, it’s not just about the place; it’s about the time. 

Antisemitism, a menacing shadow that has persistently loomed over history, is once again on the rise, challenging our most sacred values and human rights principles. Geneva, as host to the Human Rights Council and a multitude of international organizations and civil society groups, is exactly the right place to fortify our commitment to quell this resurgent tide of hate. By convening here, on the margins of the Human Rights Council, we reaffirm our resolve to position antisemitism at the forefront of our human rights agenda, recognizing that our fight against this unique form of hatred is linked with broader struggles against discrimination and prejudice.

Our collective mission today goes beyond mere acknowledgment. It is a call to action. It is about education, fostering critical thinking, and staunchly combatting Holocaust denial and distortion, acts that feed the roots of extremism, racism, and societal division.

I extend a heartfelt welcome to all of you today. Each one of you, by being here, is making a statement of commitment to not just recognizing the profound threat of antisemitism but also to forging collaborative actions against it.

I am deeply grateful to today’s cosponsors: Argentina, Austria, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czechia, Germany, Israel, Slovakia, Slovakia, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom. Your solidarity embodies the collective spirit that we must nurture to tackle this pressing challenge. Our collaboration with the World Jewish Congress, represented by Mr. Leon Saltiel, further underscores the inclusive and comprehensive approach we aspire to embody.

Thank you, High Commissioner Türk, for your esteemed presence. Your participation sends an important message about the imperative nature of our mission and the need to prioritize and counter antisemitism as a cardinal human rights issue.

In a short while, we’ll hear from a luminary whose dedication to combating antisemitism is unparalleled – Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt. With an unparalleled academic legacy, Ambassador Lipstadt has been a resolute force, not only illuminating the horrors of the Holocaust but courageously challenging its deniers.

And now, I have the distinct honor to introduce someone whose dedication to human rights has been unwavering and transformative, High Commissioner Volker Türk. His leadership and insights are pivotal in our global response to antisemitism and its intersections with other forms of hatred. High Commissioner, the floor is yours.