Jan. 12, 2005
UN to mark liberation of Nazi death camps

By URIEL HEILMAN
NEW YORK

The United Nations will hold a special session of the General Assembly on January 24 to mark the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camps, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan announced Tuesday.

A majority of member states agreed to convene the special assembly of the world body, which was founded in the wake of the Holocaust partly to ensure that no such horror could ever take place again. The countries supporting the convening of the special session include states with no diplomatic ties to the Jewish state, Israel's UN ambassador said.

"This is not an Israeli event. This is a universal event," Ambassador Dan Gillerman said. "I'm sure it will be a very solemn and historic occasion of a very universal nature."

So far, 110 countries support the special session.

"This will be an important occasion, since the United Nations was founded as the world was learning the full horror of the camps, and is dedicated to doing everything in its power to protect human dignity and prevent any such horror from happening again," Annan spokesman Fred Eckhard said.

A combination of factors enabled the broad support necessary to convene this special session, Gillerman suggested, including a new mood of caution optimism surrounding the Arab-Israeli conflict, intense lobbying by Israel and rising anti-Semitism on the continent that witnessed the Holocaust.

"There is an awareness around the world that anti-Semitism once again is raising its ugly head, especially in Europe, and that everyone should be very concerned and do everything in their power to stop it," Gillerman said.