UN defines Holocaust denial, urges social media firms to fight it

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
iStock/Getty Images
  • The United Nations General Assembly urged social media companies "to take active measures" to combat antisemitism.
  • The General Assembly on Thursday agreed on a definition of denial of the Holocaust.
  • The 193-member General Assembly adopted the resolution - drafted by Israel and Germany - without a vote.

    The United Nations General Assembly on Thursday agreed on a definition of denial of the Holocaust, when the Nazis killed 6 million Jews during World War Two, and urged social media companies "to take active measures" to combat antisemitism.

    "The General Assembly is sending a strong and unambiguous message against the denial or the distortion of these historical facts," said Germany's UN Ambassador Antje Leendertse.

    "Ignoring historical facts increases the risk that they will be repeated."

    The 193-member General Assembly adopted the resolution - drafted by Israel and Germany - without a vote. However, Iran disassociated itself.

    Speaking to the General Assembly, Israel's UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan made a veiled reference to Iran.

    He said: 

    Nations with seats in this hall openly deny the Holocaust, casting doubt on its occurrence and praising its perpetrators. In fact, those that most blatantly deny that Jews suffered a genocide are the ones now threatening Jews with another genocide.

    Later, an Iranian diplomat, who Iran's UN mission did not identify, accused Israel of exploiting "the sufferings of the Jewish people in the past as a cover for the crimes it has perpetrated" and questioning the resolution for "an awkward approach towards historical studies."

    Israel's UN mission did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Iran's statement to the General Assembly.

    The General Assembly resolution spelled out that distortion and denial of the Holocaust refers to:
    • Intentional efforts to excuse or minimize the impact of the Holocaust or its principal elements, including collaborators and allies of Nazi Germany.
    • Gross minimisation of the number of the victims of the Holocaust in contradiction to reliable sources.
    • Attempts to blame the Jews for causing their own genocide.
    • Statements that cast the Holocaust as a positive historical event.
    • Attempts to blur the responsibility for the establishment of concentration and death camps devised and operated by Nazi Germany by putting blame on other nations or ethnic groups.

    It "urges member states and social media companies to take active measures to combat antisemitism and Holocaust denial or distortion by means of information and communications technologies and to facilitate reporting of such content".

    The General Assembly meeting on Thursday coincided with the 80th anniversary of the Wannsee Conference, when the Nazis met to coordinate the "final solution" - their plan to exterminate the Jews.

    Never miss a story. Choose from our range of newsletters to get the news you want delivered straight to your inbox.

    We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
    In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
    Subscribe to News24
    Rand - Dollar
    Rand - Pound
    Rand - Euro
    Rand - Aus dollar
    Rand - Yen
    Top 40
    All Share
    Resource 10
    Industrial 25
    Financial 15
    All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
    Editorial feedback and complaints

    Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.