Press Releases

    Note No. 5913/Rev.1*
    21 January 2005

    Note to Correspondents

    General Assembly to Convene Special Session Commemorating Sixtieth Anniversary of Liberation of Nazi Death Camps, Monday, 24 January

    NEW YORK, 20 January (UN Headquarters) -- With the support of 150 Member States, the General Assembly will convene a special session on Monday, 24 January, to commemorate the sixtieth anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camps -- the first event of its kind.

    Opening the day-long session on Monday at 10 a.m. will be United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and General Assembly President Jean Ping (Gabon). A statement by Eli Wiesel, holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize winner, will follow.

    Other notable speakers will include: the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Israel; the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Luxembourg; the Speaker of the Senate of Italy; and the Foreign Affairs Ministers of Germany, France, Argentina, Armenia and Canada. A representative of the Commission for Human Rights of the Russian Federation is also expected to speak.

    Secretary-General Kofi Annan yesterday told correspondents at Headquarters that the “solemn and highly significant occasion” should be seen as an expression of the United Nations commitment to build an Organization that responded quickly and effectively to genocide and other serious human rights violations.

    Mr. Annan urged everyone to remember, reflect on and learn from the evil that destroyed 6 million Jews and others in the camps, insisting that the holocaust was not something to be consigned to the distant past and forgotten.

    “Every generation must be on its guard to make sure that such a thing never happens again”, he said, stressing the need for succeeding generations to carry forward the work of remembrance as the death camp survivors dwindled in number.

    Letters from some 30 Member States in mid-December 2004 addressed to the Secretary-General prompted the idea for the session. Permanent Missions stressed the importance for the United Nations, which “rose out of the ashes of World War II and the holocaust”, to mark the important occasion of the liberation of the camps in a manner befitting its historical significance. Mr. Annan announced on 11 January that a majority of Member States had agreed to the request to convene the special session on 24 January.  He called on their full support for the session.

    The Secretary-General will host a breakfast, which will be open to the press, for survivors and dignitaries attending the special event. At the end of the day, the Permanent Mission of Israel to the United Nations will host a private dinner for participants in the session.

    In conjunction with the special session, two exhibits in the public lobby of the Headquarters building will be opened at 6 p.m. by the Secretary-General and the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Israel, Silvan Shalom. Entitled “Auschwitz -- the depth of the Abyss”, the exhibit is a collection of photographs and paintings from the Auschwitz and Majdanek camps.

    A second exhibit in the public lobby, entitled “Afterwards, it’s just a part of you”, consists of photographs by youth groups who visited what remains of the death camps.  It includes their written recollections of their visits and talks with survivors.

    The special session will be webcast live via http://www.un.org/webcast. For additional details about the session, please consult the following site: http://www.un.org/ga/28special.

    Further, the United Nations Information Service (UNIS) in Vienna, Austria, is planning a brief 40-minute event on 24 January to draw attention to the General Assembly’s special session, especially given its significance to the region. The event hopes to bring together to the Rotunda representatives of the permanent missions, civil society, media and UNIS staff to hear remarks by the four Ambassadors of the “Allied Powers” who liberated the camps, as well as a musical selection from the Vienna International Centre choir. The Austrian Ambassador and representatives of the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia will also be invited to attend.

    Media Accreditation

    All media representatives are required to have tickets to attend the special session. These are available at the Media Liaison Desk located on the third floor in the General Assembly Hall, on a first-come, first-served basis. In addition to the General Assembly Hall, Conference Room 3 will be reserved for any additional United Nations staff, interns, affiliates and press interested in following the proceedings.

    Correspondents already holding a valid United Nations grounds pass will not need additional accreditation for the special session.  Media representatives requiring accreditation -- press, photo, radio, television and film -- should submit their requests on official letterhead from a bona fide media organization to the Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit.

    The letter, which should specify the name of the person(s) seeking accreditation, and a functional title, should be addressed to:  Abdellatif Kabbaj, Chief, Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit (MALU), Room S-250, tel.: (212) 963-6934 or (212) 963-6937, fax:  (212) 963-4642, e-mail: kabbaj@un.org.

    The Media Accreditation Pass and ID Office is located in the UNITAR Building at 807 United Nations Plaza, Room U-100, at the corner of 45th Street and First Avenue. The hours of operation on Monday, 24 January are:  7:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m., and 2 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. Media personnel are advised to arrive early to allow sufficient time for the processing of passes.

    Access for accredited media, with a valid United Nations grounds pass, will be through the visitors’ entrance at 46th Street and First Avenue. Resident correspondents can either enter the same way or at the entrance on 43rd Street and First Avenue. Resident correspondents without equipment are exempt from screening through metal detectors, but resident correspondents carrying media equipment will have to pass their equipment through security screening.Non-resident media representatives and their equipment will be screened at the 46th Street entrance.

    * *** *

    ___________________________

    * Reissued for technical reasons.