200 years after abolition of slave trade, slave-like practices persist – Ban Ki-moon

2 March 2007

Two hundred years after the United States and the British Empire banned the slave trade, many millions of people are still subjected to slavery-like practices, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has warned.

“These include debt bondage and the use of children in armed conflict,” he told the inaugural ceremony yesterday evening of an exhibition at UN Headquarters in New York marking the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. “The victims are typically too scared to speak out. For all that has been accomplished in our campaign for human rights, we still have much to do.”

The month-long exhibition in the United Nations Visitors’ Lobby – “Lest We Forget – The Triumph Over Slavery” – illustrates the cultural, political, economic and social practices of enslaved Africans while enduring the dehumanizing conditions of slavery.

Organized by the UN Department of Public Information (DPI) and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Member States in association with the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the exhibition will coincide with the International Day for the Commemoration of the 200th Anniversary of the Abolition of the Transatlantic Slave Trade which the General Assembly has proclaimed for 25 March.

“This exhibition tells more than the story of the triumph over the slave trade,” Mr. Ban said. “We also see men and women striving to maintain dignity and their culture in a world without mercy. Let us be inspired by their struggle. And let us finish the job that is still before us.”

Two hundred years ago today US President Thomas Jefferson signed legislation abolishing the slave trade. Later that same month, the British Parliament banned the slave trade throughout the British Empire.

 

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