The IHRA was established at the initiative of former Swedish Prime Minister Göran Persson. It was initially called the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research, or ITF. The IHRA meanwhile has a total of 34 member countries, one partner country and seven countries with observer status.
IHRA members have pledged to adhere to the Declaration of the 2000 Stockholm International Forum on the Holocaust. The Declaration underscores that the unprecedented character of the Holocaust will always hold universal meaning. It comprises a number of commitments pertaining to Holocaust remembrance, educating future generations about its magnitude and strengthening cooperation between governments as they contribute to creating a world without genocide.
Under the chairmanship of Luxembourg, all member countries gathered for a ministerial meeting on 19 January 2020 at which they reaffirmed their support for, and added new commitments to, the Declaration of the Stockholm International Forum. They also recognised the urgent need for political coordination and cooperation at international level, in an effort to counter historical distortion of the Holocaust and rising antisemitism and antigypsyism.
The IHRA is the key forum in which standards for education about the Holocaust are developed, research networks established and difficult aspects of remembrance tackled. For the period of 2018 to 2022, the top priorities of IHRA experts and political representatives are to counter the historical distortion of the Holocaust and ensure that all historical documents related to the Holocaust are securely archived.
A Permanent Office in Berlin that is headed by Dr Kathrin Meyer supports the IHRA’s activities, and the Alliance’s chairmanship rotates annually among the member countries. Germany will hold the IHRA chairmanship from 3 March 2020 until it passes to Greece in March 2021.
Numerous leading scientists and staff members of memorials and education institutions serve as IHRA delegates. Every IHRA delegation is headed by a senior-level government representative, who usually is a member of a ministry of foreign affairs, culture or education. Twice annually, more than 200 government representatives and experts from more than 40 countries gather at plenary meetings to discuss and promote the in-depth examination of issues of political relevance in connection with the Holocaust and the genocide of the Sinti and Roma.
The IHRA works closely with other intergovernmental bodies that deal with Holocaust issues as part of their mandate. Eight organisations are permanent international partners of the IHRA: