The Auschwitz-Birkenau State Statement of Purpose
The phenomenon of genocide is a uniquely human creation. Since the dawn of history, it has occurred on all the inhabited continents among diverse ethnic, religious, social and geographic groups. It has caused the deaths of more people than all the wars and individual murders combined. It is difficult to predict, to prevent or to limit. Its perpetrators mostly face impunity. In sum, genocide is as pervasive as it is intractable.
The Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation [AIPR] was organized in response to continuing genocides with a mission to galvanize regional leadership around the world to prevent and inhibit genocide. AIPR partners with the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, grounding this initiative on the Museum staff’s vast experience in Holocaust research and the guidance that the Museum and the power of the site of Auschwitz can offer genocide prevention efforts.
AIPR’s partnership with the Auschwitz State Museum will achieve galvanizing regional leadership around the world to prevent and inhibit genocide through their uniquely designed education programs, which will bring together policy makers, civil servants, military personnel and others from around the world to study genocide and learn how they can prevent, curtail and end genocide in their countries.
The Raphael Lemkin Center For
Genocide Prevention at Auschwitz
The Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation [AIPR] was approved unanimously at the 2004 spring meeting of the International Auschwitz Council and the Auschwitz Birkenau State Museum. During the planning period, former President Rau of Germany, Professor Elie Wiesel, Ambassador Stuart Eizenstat, Prince Hassan of Jordan, and former President Kwasniewski of Poland affirmed their support of AIPR.
Since AIPR’s initial presentation at the 2004 Stockholm Conference, numerous other individuals of prominence have indicated their strong support including the UN Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide, Juan Mendez and the Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information at the UN, Shashi Tharoor.
As a first important step towards achieving its goals, AIPR established a partnership with the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, a partnership meant to establish the Raphael Lemkin Center for Genocide Prevention and to jointly develop and organize the Raphael Lemkin Seminar Series. This seminar relies on the museum staff’s outstanding genocide research experience and long-lasting engagement into education about Holocaust and genocide, pooled with the expertise of individual research from the entire world.
The seminars were named after Raphael Lemkin, a Polish immigrant to the United States, for his courageous and pioneering efforts to name the act of genocide in order to prevent and punish the horrific crime and establish the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1948.
The activities of the Raphael Lemkin Center are directed toward mid-level government employees from various nations likely to rise to major leadership positions in the future. Candidates are employed by their governments in various capacities for at least five years and have demonstrated a commitment to remain in government as a career. Participants in the program are nominated by their governments and have completed a competitive selection process.
The program, which is redesigned permanently to better fit the needs of government officials, has the input of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum and over 80 internationally acclaimed scholars. It will run for seven days and will introduce and discuss the subject of genocide, genocide prevention and response mechanisms. These seven-day sessions will be conducted three times throughout the year (spring, summer and fall) ensuring that within five years the AIPR through its Lemkin Center will have sensitized hundreds of individuals in government positions throughout the world to genocide in all its dimensions including enduring political, economic and humanitarian consequences.
The Raphael Lemkin Center [RLC] for the Study of Genocide provides an opportunity to transform the hopes and dreams of the signatories of the UN Convention on Genocide into an action-oriented international commitment to foster a more peaceful global future. Based on a shared value system, the RLC will respond to current challenges to genocide prevention employing the expertise of an international group of scholars and will harness the political will of participating nations to become a truly collective enterprise.
The work of participants will also further enhance our collective understanding of a state’s capacity to act and will be a model to facilitate a global, sustainable and preventative genocide institution. The location of the RLC in The RLC’s location in Oswiecim, Poland, the site of Auschwitz, the worst of the Holocaust’s concentration camps, will demonstrate the importance and value of a global genocide prevention system. Success in setting up our program in Oswiecim could catalyze similar initiatives in various locations around the globe.
The Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum and AIPR will conduct their first seven-day genocide prevention program in Auschwitz 60 years after the UN General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in 1948.