The Ligue Internationale contre le Racisme et l'Antisémitisme (LICRA) was created in 1926. Its origins are linked to the defence of Samuel Schwartzbard, a voluntary soldier from the French Army, who killed Ataman Général Petlioura in Paris on 25 May 1926 for his role in organizing the Ukrainian pogroms. Schwartzbard was of Jewish origin and confessed that his crime had been committed out of a desire to avenge the massacre of his people led by men such as Petlioura. A campaign was launched, led by the journalist Bernard Lecache, in defence of Schwartzbard's actions and against racial and anti-Semitic persecution, leading to the creation of the Ligue contre les Pogroms. Following Schwartzbard's successful acquittal, the Ligue contre les Pogroms became the Ligue Internationale Contre l'Antisémitisme (LICA), which was then renamed the Ligue Internationale contre le Racisme et l'Antisémitisme and its acronym officially changed to LICRA in 1979.
Since its inauguration, LICA or LICRA has been involved in numerous campaigns that were initially dedicated to combatting the rise of anti-Semitism and racism during the 1930s. Their actions have included:
- Creating one of the first publications dedicated entirely to the issues faced by ethnic minorities: Le Droit de Vivre
- Mobilizing international opinion against the rise of anti-Semitism, segregation in the US, and the social and economic exploitation of colonized peoples during the 1930s, as well as lobbying against the infiltration of fascist ideas into French politics and boycotting the importation of goods from Germany under the Third Reich
- Following LICA's dissolution under the Vichy Regime during the Second World War, creating a clandestine organization to assist people of Jewish origin
- After the Second World War, re-establishing LICA as an organization dedicated to helping Holocaust survivors, as well as campaigning against colonization, anti-Semitism and American segregation
- In more recent times, denouncing political measures to exclude the Roma community, as well as attacks against ethnic minorities. LICRA organizes numerous juridical and pedagogical colloquiums looking at issues such as the efficacy of the 1972 anti-racism law, the evolution of human rights, the question of Holocaust denial and the need for a clear educational programme to curtail racism within society.
Where memories of slavery and the slave trade are concerned, LICRA regularly participates in the events surrounding the National Day for Remembering Slavery, the Slave Trade and their Abolitions on 10 May and has, more recently, joined calls for a national debate on reparations.
LICRA's objectives are:
- To fight against racism, anti-Semitism, xenophobia and discriminations, as well as to defend the rights of individuals or groups
- To promote human rights and, through positive educational actions, prevent attacks against human rights.
- To combat Holocaust denial and the denial of crimes against humanity, and defend the honour and memory or their victims.