General Assembly: 55th plenary meeting, 76th session
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Sport for development and peace: building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic ideal

Delegates also Postpone Fifth United Nations Least Developed Countries Conference

Rejecting and condemning Holocaust denial, the General Assembly urged Member States today to develop educational programmes that will inculcate future generations with the lessons of the atrocity to prevent acts of genocide.

Adopting a draft resolution titled “Holocaust denial” (document A/76/L.30) without a vote, the 193-member organ also urged Member States and social media companies to take active measures to combat antisemitism and Holocaust denial or distortion in cyberspace. “L.30”, tabled jointly by Israel and Germany, was cosponsored by more than 100 Member States.

Israel’s representative said that 6 million Jewish men, women and children were murdered throughout the Holocaust in the most horrific ways imaginable, which was due to the Nazi documentation of their crimes, “the most meticulously documented genocide in history”. The victims included the wife and children of his grandfather Chaim, a Holocaust survivor, whose family perished in the gas chambers of Auschwitz, he said.

“Today, as the number of Holocaust survivors diminishes, Holocaust denial is growing at a terrifying speed,” he said, pointing out that partly due to popular disinformation flowing through social media platforms, only 54 per cent of the world’s population has heard of the Holocaust, with one third of them sceptical of the facts. Despite this, such platforms “do little to combat this sick phenomenon” as they are only service providers, he added.

Germany’s delegate said that through the adoption of the text, the Assembly stands united in sending a strong message against the denial or distortion of the facts surrounding one of the worst crimes against humanity. Her country is aware of its special obligation and responsibility in keeping the memory of the Holocaust alive, and will relentlessly oppose any attempts to diminish, distort or deny historic facts.

Iran’s representative disassociated his country from the resolution although it did not block the passage of the text. Strongly rejecting the attempt to misuse the concept of the Second World War to provide cover for the continuing practices of racism and expansionism, he said: “The Israeli regime has applied both in its policies and practices over seven decades.” Its brutal crimes against Palestine, which include ethnic cleansing, an inhumane blockage and forced evictions, have continued, he said.

Turning attention to conference management issues deeply affected by the coronavirus pandemic, the Assembly adopted without a vote a draft decision on follow-up to the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries, by which it decided to further postpone the Fifth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries, which was scheduled to take place in Doha from 23 to 27 January 2022. The new dates are to be determined at the earliest possible time.

The Assembly then adopted, in a contentious vote, a draft decision, as amended, postponing the first negotiating session of the Ad Hoc Committee to elaborate an international treaty on countering the criminal use of information and communications technologies, which was scheduled to take place in January 2022.

By the text, the Assembly also decided to convene a one-day meeting in New York as soon as possible, preferably before 28 February 2022, to address organizational matters, and hold the first negotiating session in New York no later than 18 April 2022, health conditions and space permitting. If those conditions are not met, the Ad Hoc Committee would hold the first session in May 2022 in Vienna.

In other business, the Assembly extended the terms of office for Maimunah Mohd Sharif (Malaysia), Executive Director of United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT), by two years, beginning on 20 January 2022. Ms. Sharif’s first four-year term expired on 19 January.

The Assembly also took note of a solemn appeal for the observance of the Olympic truce (document A/76/648), presented by Assembly President Abdulla Shahid (Maldives).

Also speaking today were representatives of the United States, Czech Republic, Poland, Ukraine, Italy, Cyprus, Guatemala, United Kingdom, Egypt (for the Arab Group), Belarus, Malaysia, Dominican Republic, France (for the European Union), Venezuela, Switzerland, Brazil, Australia, Mexico, Syria, Ethiopia, Jamaica (for the Caribbean Community), Turkey, Indonesia and Algeria, as well as an observer of the European Union.

The Assembly will meet again at 10 a.m. Friday, 21 January, to hear a briefing by the Secretary-General on his priorities for 2022 and to discuss the topic.