HISTORY OF SLAVE TRADE IS “SOURCE FOR REFLECTION” SAYS UNESCO CHIEF BOKOVA ON INTERNATIONAL REMEMBRANCE DAY
UN Photo/Mark Garten
“The long series of uprisings by slaves in their quest for freedom are sources for reflection and action for protecting human rights and combating modern forms of servitude,” Irina Bokova, Director-general of UNESCO, said in a statement on the International Day for the remembrance of the slave trade and its abolition yesterday.
“Through their struggles and their desire for dignity and freedom, slaves have contributed to the universality of human rights.” According to the statement, the slave trade has shaped the world we live in today, and has “bequeathed to the world a boundlessly rich cultural heritage.”
The Remembrance Day was implemented by the United Nations Educational, scientific and cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) executive board in 1998. The date was chosen with historical significance: on the night of August 22, 1791, an uprising began in Saint Domingue (present day Haiti) that would eventually lead to the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade.
According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), almost 21 million people however still work under circumstances in which they are not free to leave. In ’the2012 Global Estimate of Forced Labour’, the ILO describes several forms of forces labour, including debt bondage, trafficking and forced prostitution.State-imposed forms of forced labour involve work in prisons under conditions which violate ILO standards, or in work imposed by the state military or by rebel armed forces.
UNESCO urges to break the silence about the slave trade trough cultural and educational programs, and initiatives like the Slave Route Project, designed to gain more understanding about the slave trade and combat racism and prejudice.
“Transmitting this history is central to the struggle against racism, for the observance of human rights and for the building of peace,” Bokova said.