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UN to Condemn Holocaust Denial

The U.N. General Assembly is due to vote this week on a resolution condemning efforts to deny the Holocaust. VOA correspondent Peter Heinlein reports from U.N. headquarters in New York.

The U.S. sponsored resolution is brief and to the point. In a half-page text, it notes that in November, 2005, the U.N. adopted by a wide margin a similar measure declaring that remembrance of the Holocaust is critical to preventing further acts of genocide.

In simple language, this follow-up resolution "condemns without any reservation any denial of the Holocaust", and urges all nations to 'unreservedly reject denial of the Holocaust as a historical event, either in full or in part".

The resolution does not mention any country by name, but U.S. diplomats made clear it is a reaction to last month's Holocaust denial conference in Iran. Ben Chang, a spokesman at the U.S. mission to the U.N. said the measure reminds member states of the obligation they undertook in the 2005 resolution to stand united against Holocaust denial.

"Any denials or questioning, or lessening of any assertion that minimizes the importance of the Holocaust is absolutely unacceptable, and that's the context in which we are forwarding this resolution," he said. "It's a very clear resolution, and it's entirely focused on that notion that all member states have an obligation to reject completely any activities, conferences, statements that deny in full or in part the Holocaust."

Of the 192 U.N. member states, 32 are co-sponsoring the non-binding resolution. The Iranian mission did not return phone calls seeking comment, but other Muslim country ambassadors indicated they would support the measure.

Pakistan's U.N. envoy Munir Akram, who is currently chairman of a 133-member bloc of mostly developing countries, says he has expects smooth passage.

"We supported the observance of the Holocaust last year, so I don't know whether any of them would have a problem, but certainly we don't," he said.

The vote on the resolution coincides with Holocaust Remembrance Day, which was created by the General Assembly in its 2005 resolution. It will be observed January 29.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon last month called attempts to question the Holocaust "unacceptable."