More than 160 Jewish communities and organisations across the globe urge UN to use IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism in UN Action Plan

(Brussels, May 18, 2023) – More than 160 Jewish communities and organizations across the globe called on the United Nations to make use of the Working Definition of Antisemitism from the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) in its forthcoming action plan to counter antisemitism.

The authoritative definition, adopted by IHRA in 2016, offers clear and succinct examples of the multiple forms of antisemitism, including those related to the State of Israel. Since then, it has become an indispensable tool for dozens of national governments.  

The letter demonstrates that the vast majority of those engaged in combating antisemitism and the Jewish communities worldwide who are its target find the IHRA definition not only helps fight antisemitism, but – as the letter affirms –  “can be used entirely consistently with fundamental human rights standards.” 

The letter asserts: “We have long recognized that in order to combat antisemitism we must understand it. Key to these efforts is employing a clear and comprehensive definition that explains the multiple forms antisemitism may take. It is our collective view that the non-legally binding IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism is an indispensable tool to understand and fight antisemitism, and one that can be used entirely consistently with fundamental human rights standards. Indeed, any UN Action Plan must acknowledge the importance of the IHRA Working Definition to the vast majority of Jewish individuals, organizations, and communities who are the primary targets of antisemitic hatred, discrimination, and violence; are the Action Plan’s primary intended beneficiaries; and are best placed to identify manifestations of hatred and bias directed against us.”

Demonstrating broad international support in a letter to Secretary-General António Guterres and Under-Secretary-General Miguel Moratinos, who is the UN system’s focal point on antisemitism, this effort was spearheaded by ADL, AJC, B’nai B’rith International, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, European Jewish Congress, Jewish Federations of North America, and World Jewish Congress. Jewish communities from 66 countries joined the appeal, along with other civil society organizations, academics, and faith leaders. An annex to the letter also enumerates the hundreds of national, state, and local governments as well as corporations, sports franchises, scholars, academics, and universities that have already adopted and use the IHRA definition.  

Under-Secretary-General Moratinos will convene a meeting in Cordoba, Spain, on June 20-21, where the UN action plan will be discussed.  The letter asks the Secretary-General and the Under Secretary General “to ensure that the IHRA Working Definition of antisemitism is referenced positively in the forthcoming ‘UN Action Plan on monitoring antisemitism and enhancing a system-wide response’ as an indispensable educational and monitoring tool, the value of which has been widely recognized by many key stakeholders, and one that should be used for training UN staff, among others, on how to recognize and respond to antisemitism.”

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