Top UN official calls for greater effort to end contemporary forms of slavery

23 August 2008

Marking the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, Cultural Organization (UNESCO) chief today appealed to Member States to renew efforts to end all forms of oppression.

“While we should never forget the atrocities committed in the past, we should be equally vigilant in seeking to abolish the contemporary forms of slavery that affect millions of men, women and children around the world,” said UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura.

He noted that despite a tremendous international effort to combat the exploitation of human beings as well as the growing awareness of forced labour and the sale and prostitution of children, flagrant violations of human rights continue.

The Day commemorates the uprising on 23 August 1791, when slaves of Santo Domingo in the Caribbean launched an insurrection which ultimately led to the Haitian revolution and promoted the cause of human rights.

This year's International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition coincides with the bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade by the United States of America in 1808.

Also, the freedom from slavery and servitude as a fundamental human right was recognized in Article 4 of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, which celebrates its 60th anniversary this year.

“Let us therefore remember the millions of men, women and children who were subjected to this most invidious denial of human rights, and those who fought tirelessly to end that tyranny,” declared Mr. Matsuura.


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