10 June 2010

UK: Post-Holocaust Issues envoy named

British Foreign Secretary Foreign Secretary William Hague has announced the appointment of Sir Andrew Burns to the new post of United Kingdom Envoy for Post-Holocaust Issues.

In the press release, Hague said:
"The UK is determined to preserve the memory of the Holocaust for future generations. Sir Andrew’s appointment will ensure that we continue to support those working to right past wrongs and remain at the forefront of international discussions, to make sure that the lessons of this terrible period in our history are never forgotten.

“As a former UK Ambassador to Israel and chairman of the Anglo-Israel Association, Sir Andrew’s wealth of experience means he is ideally placed to tackle the challenges this post presents.”
Burns said:
The UK already plays a leading and active role in promoting Holocaust education, remembrance and research, in tackling and resolving outstanding issues and claims and in raising public awareness of the continuing relevance of the lessons and legacy of that terrible moment in European history. I shall make it an early priority to talk to a broad range of experts and others with an interest in or knowledge of post-Holocaust subjects, in Whitehall and Parliament and in the wider community, in order to understand as well as I can the scope and substance of the issues involved and can develop a properly co-ordinated and strategic way forward in international discussions.”
According to Commission of Looted Art in Europe co-chair Anne Webber:
At this critical juncture when Holocaust survivors and refugees are coming to the end of their lives and several post-Holocaust issues remain unresolved, the Envoy’s role will be to create a strategic approach to the UK government’s efforts on a number of post-Holocaust issues. The Envoy’s remit includes art and real estate restitution, the International Tracing Service archive at Bad Arolsen and Holocaust education, remembrance and research. The Envoy will be responsible for developing and implementing UK government policy in these fields, assisted and guided by expert stakeholders, and will report to the UK’s Foreign Secretary.
Burns is a former High Commissioner to Canada, Consul-General in Hong Kong and Ambassador to Israel.

In creating the post, the government worked very closely with the Commission for Looted Art in Europe (read more here) and the Association of Jewish Refugees, directed by Michael Newman.

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