"In the face of the attempts to re-write history that are currently at work, I can but recall in the most emphatic manner that it is our moral duty to analyse the past and to pass it on without falsification, alteration or omission. Any attempt to call into question or to deny the reality of the Holocaust or of any other crime against humanity is to be  deeply regretted.  UNESCO has a major role to play in this work of transmission, which is of especial importance to the younger generations.

The inscription of the Auschwitz site on the World Heritage List is a particularly striking example of this duty to respect history and memory.  I was able to gauge this personally when I visited the site in April 2001, a moment that will for ever be engraved in my mind.

I fully share the conviction of the United Nations Secretary-General, who recently denounced all attempts to cast doubt on the reality of the Holocaust, which he qualifies as "a unique and undeniable horror".  That is why UNESCO welcomed the adoption by the UN General Assembly, almost a year ago, of a resolution proclaiming 27 January, the day of the liberation of the Nazi extermination camp of Auschwitz, as "International Day of Remembrance of the victims of the Holocaust", in order to remember the crimes of the past and to prevent future acts of genocide.

Above and beyond the need for such acts of remembrance, with which UNESCO readily associates itself, it is the daily business of this Organization, throughout the entire gamut of its activities and programmes, to promote quality education, values education, dialogue and tolerance, the respect of differences, and the wealth of cultural diversity. This is an onerous responsibility that is placed upon us, and it is a sadly topical one, but our full mobilization must remain constant."

Koïchiro Matsuura