Remembering the Abolition of Slavery
December 2nd is the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery and marks the the adoption by the General Assembly of the United Nations Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others (resolution 317(IV) of December 2, 1949.
The abolition of salvery focuses on eradicating contemporary forms of slavery such as trafficking in persons, sexual exploitation, the worst forms of child labor, forced marriage, and the forced recruitment of children for use in armed conflict.
A crime against humanity
Declaration of the World Conference against Racism (Durban, 2001, Paragraph 13): “We acknowledge that slavery and the slave trade, including the transatlantic slave trade, were appalling tragedies in the history of humanity not only because of their abhorrent barbarism, but also in terms of the magnitude and organized nature as well as their negation of the essence of the victims and further acknowledge that slavery and the slave trade are a crimes against humanity.”
According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), there are currently an estimated 21 million forced labor victims worldwide, which creates about $150 billion in illegal profits in the private economy each year.
The ILO has adopted a new legally binding Protocol designed to strengthen global efforts in order to eliminate forced labor, which came into force in November 2016.
The “50 for Freedom” campaign aims to persuade at least 50 countries to ratify the Forced Labour Protocol by 2018.
• Almost 21 million people are victims of forced labor – 11.4 million women and girls and 9.5 million men and boys.
• Almost 19 million victims are exploited by private individuals or enterprises and over two million by the state or rebel groups.
• Of those exploited by individuals or enterprises, 4.5 million are victims of forced sexual exploitation.
• Forced labor in the private economy generates $150 billion in illegal profits per year.
• Domestic work, agriculture, construction, manufacturing and entertainment are among the sectors most concerned.
• Migrant workers and indigenous people are particularly vulnerable to forced labour.
Torn from Africa
To commemorate the day this year, Irina Bokova, United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Director-General, says:
On the night of 22 to 23 August 1791, men and women, torn from Africa and sold into slavery, revolted against the slave system to obtain freedom and independence for Haiti, which was gained in 1804. The uprising was a turning point in history and greatly impacted the establishment of universal human rights., for which we are all indebted.
The courage of these men and women has created obligations for us. UNESCO is marking International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition to pay tribute to all those who fought for freedom, and, in their name, to continue teaching about their story and the values therein. The success of this rebellion, led by the slaves themselves, is a deep source of inspiration today for the fight against all forms of servitude, racism, prejudice, racial discrimination and social injustice that are a legacy of slavery.
The history of the slave trade and slavery created a storm of rage, cruelty and bitterness that has not yet abated. It is also a story of courage, freedom and pride in newfound freedom. All of humanity is part of this story, in its transgressions and good deeds. It would be a mistake and a crime to cover it up and forget.
Through its project The Slave Route, UNESCO intends to find in this collective memory the strength to build a better world and to show the historical and moral connections that unite different peoples.
In this same frame of mind, the United Nations proclaimed the International Decade for People of African Descent (2015-2024). UNESCO is contributing to it through its educational, cultural and scientific programs so as to promote the contribution of people of African descent to building modern societies and ensuring dignity and equality for all human beings, without distinction.