Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has marked the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery with a call for redoubling efforts to wipe out the contemporary forms of this abominable practice under which millions of people around the world continue to suffer.
“Millions of our fellow human beings continue to live as contemporary slaves, victims of abominable practices like human trafficking, forced labour and sexual exploitation,” Mr. Ban said his message for the Day, observed annually on 2 December.
Countless children are forced to become soldiers, work in sweat shops or are sold by desperate families, and women are brutalized and traded like commodities, he added.
“The fact that these atrocities take place in today's world should fill us all with shame,” Mr. Ban stated, adding that, above all, “the needs of the enslaved must inspire us to action.”
He stressed that no individual, community or country can remain silent in the face of this scourge, calling for action at the national, regional and global levels.
In that regard, he noted that the UN Human Rights Council this year established a new Special Procedures mandate and appointed a Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Slavery. “This mandate will play a leading role in confronting slavery in close collaboration with UN Member States, our civil society partners, and victims' groups,” he stated.
Mr. Ban also emphasized the need to understand why and how slavery is so common in so “civilized” an age. “We have to recognize that endemic poverty, social exclusion and widespread discrimination allow this practice to fester,” he said. “Slavery's practitioners thrive on the desperate, the dispossessed and the disadvantaged.”
He called for reaffirming the inherent dignity of all men, women and children, adding “let us redouble our efforts to build societies in which slavery truly is a term for the history books.”