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The Power of Education to Prevent Racism and Discrimination: the case of anti-Semitism

Speech by state secretary Ingvild Stub at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, 26 September 2018.

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I wish to thank UNESCO and Director General Audrey Azoulay for putting this important topic on the agenda and the Secretary General for his inspiring words.

Regrettably, the world continues to see incidents of hate speech, of harassment of Jews and Jewish property, and of neo-Nazis marching the streets. History has demonstrated that we must not allow these forces of intolerance and discrimination to define our societies.

As a response to incidents in Norway, the Government in 2016 issued an Action Plan against anti-Semitism. Several ministries and government agencies work together in implementing the action plan with a particular emphasis on prevention and education. Recent surveys show a decrease of anti-Semitic prejudice in Norway. Nonetheless, challenges remain.

As has been underscored by other speakers, schools are an important arena for preventing anti-Semitism. To strengthen efforts to teach respect, mutual understanding, human rights and democracy, teaching resources have been developed and are presently tested and used in our schools. This also includes material for better insights into Jewish culture and history as well as the Jewish contribution to Norwegian society.

A particularly important instrument, however, is our so-called DEMBRA project – Democratic Preparedness against Racism, anti-Semitism and undemocratic Attitudes. Norway has initiated and funded DEMBRA through the Nordic Council. Digital resources for teachers and school managers are now available in all the Nordic languages. These provide concrete tools for use in everyday work in lower and upper secondary schools. We welcome the UNESCO and OSCE publication on Addressing anti-Semitism through Education – which also highlights Norway as a “Good Practise” example - and look forward to further improving our own guidelines through co-operation with these organisations.

Combating prejudice and intolerance, as well as ensuring freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief, is fundamental to my government. Efforts to combat anti-Semitism form an integral and important part of the government’s general approach to combat all forms of discrimination, racism and group-focused intolerance.

Thank you, Madam Chair

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