SOAS University of London

Dan Plesch speaks at United Nations

20 September 2019

CISD Director Dr Dan Plesch spoke at the United Nations Office in Geneva on Tuesday 17 September. The talk and accompanying exhibition was the first in a series of events in partnership with the UN Library, and featured a distinguished panel including: Tatiana Valovaya, UN Director General; Blandine Bluckacz-Louisfert, Chief Institutional Memory Section, UN Library; David Chikvaidze, Chef de Cabinet, UN Geneva; and Fatima Sator, Research Associate, SOAS, University of London. The discussion was chaired by Francesco Pisano, Director, UN Library Geneva.

Dr Plesch discussed his research project UN History for the Future, and revealed unearthed documents showing that that the Holocaust was publicly condemned in by 15 government in 1942/3: “This revolutionises our understanding of the Allied response to the Holocaust and of the origins of the UN itself. The terrible wrongs inflicted on the Jews of Europe are normally thought to have been only condemned after the war.” said Dr Plesch”.

Opening the discussion, UN Director-General Tatyana Valovaya said: “this is a crucial lesson for the UN. For me I knew practically nothing about this – in my story books, and in my history books there was nothing about the United Nations before San Francisco. It is important to realise that during World War II, in the period when the world went to chaos, people all around the world realised they have to construct something more reliable and ambitious for the future.”

CISD Research Associate Fatima Sator spoke about her pioneering research into the role of women from the Global South in securing the inclusion of gender equality in the UN Charter. Ms Sator said: “If we have a feminist agenda in the UN, we need to thank Latin American women”.

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