Efforts to erect slavery memorial at UN move forward with pact on design and funding

7 July 2011

Efforts to build a permanent memorial at the United Nations honouring the victims of slavery and the transatlantic slave trade moved forward today with the signing of an agreement covering the international competition for the design of the structure as well as the administration of a trust fund for its construction.

The Permanent Memorial Committee on Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade signed the tripartite memorandum of understanding with the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), which will organize the design competition, and the UN Office for Partnerships (UNOP), whose role will be to manage the trust fund.

“We have as of this day a little under $1 million in contributions received from governments, but our goal is much more,” Venketachalam Krishnan of UNOP said at a news conference at UN Headquarters after the signing of the memorandum of understanding.

Ambassador Raymond Wolfe of Jamaica, the chair of the Permanent Memorial Committee, said $4.5 million is required to establish the monument.

“We are appealing to corporate entities across the world, philanthropists, private sector people – people with resources, some of whose corporations have that legacy of slavery – we need corporate sponsorship to help put us within budget,” said Mr. Wolfe.

The memorial, to be erected at UN Headquarters in New York, will be a reminder that millions of Africans were violently removed from their homelands, abused and robbed of their dignity.

“It is right that we should have this monument. It will right a wrong, which is that the international community has never before acknowledged this tragedy, and we think that the monument should be a tangible manifestation of what the UN and the UN Charter stand for,” said Mr. Wolfe.

Jamaica, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the African Group of representatives at the UN are leading the initiative to set up the permanent memorial.

News Tracker: Past Stories on This Issue

Melba Moore named Goodwill Ambassador for UN slavery memorial

The United Nations today named rhythm and blues artist Melba Moore as a Goodwill Ambassador for the construction of a permanent memorial at UN Headquarters in New York to honour the victims of the transatlantic slave trade.