International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance to Host Conference With Holy See on Refugee Policy

Thu, 01/12/2017 - 5:00pm

From 16-17 February 2017 the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), in cooperation with the Holy See, will hold a conference for public policy-makers from Europe, North America and the Middle East, media representatives and representatives of NGOs and civil society organizations at the Palazzo della Cancelleria in Rome focusing on refugee policies from 1933 to the present day.

USC Shoah Foundation is a member of IHRA’s U.S. delegation and regularly participates in plenary meetings and other activities. USC Shoah Foundation hosted IHRA Executive Secretary Kathrin Meyer in Los Angeles in June 2016; Meyer spoke about the role of education in Holocaust remembrance in a public conversation with USC Shoah Foundation Director of Education Kori Street.

Pope Francis has made compassion and generosity to refugees a hallmark of his papacy, referring to Europe's migrant crisis as "the greatest humanitarian crisis, after the Second World War.”

At a time when the current situation of refugees in Europe and the Middle East continues to dominate the news and the political arena, this conference brings together experts in Holocaust history and contemporary policy-makers to reflect on the past with a view to concretely informing positive, ethically responsible, and rational policy-making today. The outcome of the conference will be a concrete set of recommendations for international policy-makers.

Speakers include Mons. Paul Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States, Secretariat of State of the Holy See, Ms. Kristina Touzenis, Head of the International Migration Law Unit, International Organization for Migration, and Mr. Stefan Lehne, Carnegie Foundation, Brussels. The draft programme and further information on speakers is available on the website of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.

The conference panels will cover refugee policies and responses to refugee crises from the 1930s to 1945, the aftermath World War II, and the present situation, as well as current challenges.

The IHRA Chair, Ambassador Mihnea Constantinescu, said: "We are honoured to be holding this conference with the Holy See and our cooperation should send a strong signal to the international community that we have both a moral and a historical responsibility to address the present-day situation facing refugees. The IHRA knows all too well the consequences of the international community failing to act. The current refugee situation is the litmus test for international solidarity."

Dr Veerle Vanden Daelen, part of the team organizing the conference, said: "When considering what we, as experts and educators on Holocaust history, could do to take action in the current refugee situation, we realised our strength lies in our expertise. Policy-makers and people working on the ground with refugees have little to no time to read anthologies on the refugee policies of the 1930s, but we can make our knowledge on successful and failed refugee policies from the past visible and accessible to organizations and governments dealing with this issue today."         

The conference is open to invited guests only. If you represent an NGO or civil society organization working on refugee issues, please send a request to attend with your name, position and organization name to by no later than 15 January 2017. Your attendance is not assured until you have received a confirmation email from the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.

All journalists and media organizations wishing to attend the conference may apply for accreditation and may request TEMPORARY accreditation through the online form available on the Accreditation Section of Holy See Press Office website:

Journalists and media organizations regularly accredited at the Holy See Press Office may send their request through the usual channels. All requests must be sent no less than 48 hours before the event.

International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance Media Contact: Laura Robertson