20 May 2009
Secretary-General
SG/SM/12258
HR/4983

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Secretary-General pledges to fill gap in knowledge about causes, effects


of transatlantic sLave trade

 


Following is the text of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message to the ceremony for the launch of the Trust Fund and the appointment of Russell Simmons as Goodwill Ambassador for the Permanent Memorial at the United Nations to Honour the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, delivered by Kiyo Akasaka, Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, in New York today, 20 May:


Every year on 25 March, the United Nations observes the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade.  The Day honours the millions of Africans violently removed from their homelands and cast into slavery, and offers an opportunity to reflect on the legacy of slavery and the dangers of racism and prejudice today.


The transatlantic slave trade played a major part in world history.  Yet little is known about it or its lasting consequences.  Also unknown are the important contributions made by slaves to the building of societies in which they lived, and to world civilization in general.


The United Nations, through an outreach programme managed by the Department of Public Information, is strongly committed to filling this knowledge gap.  We hope to encourage broad study of the causes and lessons of the 400-year slave trade.  We want to mobilize educational institutions and civil society to discuss the threat of intolerance, from which no society is immune.


I am pleased to announce that a Trust Fund for the Permanent Memorial has been set up.  The Fund will be managed on my behalf by the United Nations Office for Partnerships, which will provide technical advice and strategic guidance to this important initiative.  I am delighted that Russell Simmons, the renowned musical impresario and activist, has agreed to serve as a Goodwill Ambassador for the Memorial.


The idea for the Memorial was an initiative of the Caribbean Community, and was welcomed by the General Assembly.  I congratulate the Member States of CARICOM and the African Union, which are playing a leading role in this effort.  I thank Mr. Simmons for lending his remarkable talents to this global cause.  I call on Member States and others to contribute generously, and I look forward to joining you again for an early unveiling of what will no doubt be a moving, important presence at our newly refurbished Headquarters complex.


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For information media • not an official record