Press release on the adoption by the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly’s 76th session of a resolution on combatting the glorification of Nazism

On November 12, the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly’s 76th session adopted during a meeting, held in New York, the resolution “Combating glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance,” initiated by the Russian Federation. It was co-sponsored by 58 countries, including Russia. During the vote, 121 countries voted in favour, two delegations – the United States and Ukraine – voted against, and 53 countries abstained.

It is symbolic that the document was approved on the eve of the 75th anniversary of the verdict in the Nuremberg Trials which provided a fundamental assessment of the Nazi regime’s crimes and formalised the outcome of World War II. Furthermore, Nuremberg provided a definitive answer to the question of who acted as the force of good and who was on the side of evil during WWII.

Recalling the judgement of the Nuremberg Tribunal, the outcome documents of the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance (South Africa, 2001) and the Durban Review Conference (Geneva, April 2009), the resolution expresses serious concern over the rise of extremist movements and political parties promoting racism, ethnocentrism and xenophobia, and spreading fascist and racial supremacy ideologies.

The resolution condemns the glorification of the Nazi movement and the former members of the Waffen SS organisation, including by erecting monuments and memorials, holding public demonstrations in the name of the glorification of the Nazi past, the Nazi movement and neo-Nazism. The document places special emphasis on the fact that erecting monuments to Waffen SS members, holding marches and other similar actions does injustice to the memory of the countless victims of fascism, negatively influences children and young people and is incompatible with the obligations of States Members of the United Nations.

In addition, the resolution stresses that such actions cannot be viewed as exercising the rights to peaceful assembly, association and expression, but constitute a clear and manifest abuse of these rights. Moreover, the General Assembly believes that these acts may fall under the purview of Article 4 of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which requires all its state parties prosecute such acts as criminal offences.

One provision in the resolution’s operative part has special importance. It expresses “deep concern about increased frequency of attempts and activities intended to desecrate or demolish monuments erected in remembrance of those who fought against Nazism during the Second World War, as well as to unlawfully exhume or remove the remains of such persons.” In addition, this paragraph urges states to “fully comply with their relevant obligations, inter alia, under article 34 of Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions of 1949.”

The document, as adopted by the Third Committee, also addresses the issue of declaring or attempting to declare former Nazis, members of the Waffen SS organisation and “those who fought against the anti-Hitler coalition, collaborated with the Nazi movement” participants in national liberation movements.

Furthermore, the resolution mentions several recommendations by the Special Rapporteur of the Human Rights Council on contemporary forms of racism, as contained in the rapporteur’s reports to the General Assembly. In this connection, it is important to note the Special Rapporteur’s conclusions that revising history is unacceptable, and on the importance of history classes in teaching the dramatic events and human suffering which arose out of the adoption of ideologies such as Nazism and Fascism. Equally important is the conclusion that any public events, both official and informal ones, celebrating former Waffen SS members must be legally banned. This year’s resolution requests that the Special Rapporteur pay particular attention when making future reports to the UN Human Rights Council and the General Assembly to specific facts on the glorification of Nazism and former Waffen SS members and any such manifestations, including marches and erecting monuments to former SS members.

The fact that the United States and Ukraine again voted against this document, while delegations of EU member states abstained during the vote is hard to understand and is highly regrettable. An overwhelming majority of UN member states voted in favour.

We do hope that the adoption of this resolution sends a clear signal to countries where decisive action to counter the increasingly frequent attempts to glorify Nazism, including Waffen SS veterans and various kinds of collaborationists, is long overdue.

We invite everyone to read the latest Foreign Ministry report on the glorification of Nazism. It is available on the Foreign Ministry website and discusses concrete facts and trends regarding this subject.