Decrying ongoing practice of slavery, Annan pledges UN support to fight it
Marking the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery today, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan pledged the world body’s full support for efforts to eradicate this grave abuse of human rights.
Mr. Annan pointed out that despite international measures to combat the practice, it is still widely prevalent “in all its insidious forms, old and new.” In addition to traditional chattel slavery, other manifestations include bonded labour, serfdom, and forced labour, including of children, women and migrants – often for the purpose of sexual exploitation.
“The abolition of slavery in all its forms remains one of the main priorities of the United Nations,” he stressed. Recent measures include the adoption of two new Optional Protocols to the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, one aimed at preventing and punishing those engaged in human trafficking and the other dealing with the smuggling of migrants.
While urging States to ratify and implement these and other human rights treaties, the Secretary-General pointed out that action to combat slavery should not be limited to judicial and law enforcement measures. “We can also contribute to the eradication of slavery by tackling the social conditions, such as poverty, which make people vulnerable to exploitation, and by empowering people to take control of their own lives,” he said.
Mr. Annan also took the occasion to appeal for donations to the UN Voluntary Trust Fund on Contemporary Forms of Slavery, which provides grants to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) helping victims. The Fund has only half of the $300,000 it needs to conduct minimum operations next year.