March 15, 2023
OTTAWA – The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) continues to be a priority for B’nai Brith Canada. Not only are we conducting roundtables and symposia throughout Canada about the importance of adopting IHRA’s definition of antisemitism, but we also are urging the organization to tweak its regulations to help grow its membership.
In a letter sent recently to Dr. Kathrin Meyer, Executive Director of IHRA, B’nai Brith outlined suggested changes the Alliance could make to increase its membership.
As it stands, the process requires nations to apply for IHRA observer status. B’nai Brith recommends IHRA take a proactive approach and actively seek out new members. IHRA is composed of 35 member states and 10 liaison or observer countries. B’nai Brith believes every democratic nation should be a member of IHRA to build a larger and global democratic membership.
“IHRA’s membership process has no active outreach,” said Marvin Rotrand, National Director of B’nai Brith’s League for Human Rights, “and thus the organization is not growing as it could and should.”
“IHRA’s work is multifaceted,” said Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B’nai Brith Canada. “Its mere existence is a bulwark against Holocaust denial and distortion and plays an important role in Holocaust research while aiding in the preservation of historical sites.”
Recently, B’nai Brith questioned why Ukraine is not an IHRA member. In addition, B’nai Brith received confirmation from the Philippines that the island nation would be interested in joining IHRA. The new Philippines Government that took office last summer stands in support of the IHRA definition but believes it has never been invited to become a member state.
Also, the Congress of Guatemala voted to adopt the IHRA definition. As well, Columbia has said it is guided by the IHRA definition. Neither of these nations is yet an IHRA member.
“The expansion of IHRA is vital in the worldwide struggle against antisemitism,” Rotrand said. “But we see too much onus put on potential member states and not enough outreach from IHRA. In fact, we see IHRA’s membership process as unduly passive waiting for and reacting to expressions of interest from non-member states.”
B’nai Brith is requesting that Canada’s delegation to IHRA formally raises the issue of growing IHRA’s membership.