Millions of people worldwide are still being enslaved, sold as chattels - Annan

2 December 2004

Millions of men, women and children are still being bought and sold as chattels, forced into bonded labour, held as slaves for ritual or religious purposes, or trafficked across borders, often to be sold into prostitution, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said today in a message marking International Day for the Abolition of Slavery.

Millions of men, women and children are still being bought and sold as chattels, forced into bonded labour, held as slaves for ritual or religious purposes, or trafficked across borders, often to be sold into prostitution, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said today in a message marking International Day for the Abolition of Slavery.

“All these forms of slavery are abhorrent, and must be eradicated,” he declared, calling on all States to ratify and implement existing conventions that fight the scourge.

“Slavery offends every value that underlies the United Nations Charter, and the Organization and all its Member States must take a strong stand against it.”

Noting that the General Assembly has declared 2004 the International Year to Commemorate the Struggle against Slavery and its Abolition, UN human rights institutions deplored the “appalling reality that today millions of human beings all over the world continue to be enslaved.”

The statement, endorsed by a number of officials including the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the expert on trafficking in persons, stressed the need to address the primary causes of slavery as well as protecting the victims.

"Indeed the elimination of slavery cannot be achieved without combating poverty, social exclusion, illiteracy, ignorance and discrimination in all its forms,” they declared.

 

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