|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
ON INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR ABOLITION OF SLAVERY, SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS POVERTY,
SOCIAL EXCLUSION, DISCRIMINATION ALLOW CONTEMPORARY SLAVERY TO FESTER
Following is the text of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message for the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, 2 December:
The International Day for the Abolition of Slavery should be a remembrance by now, a companion to history books recounting humanity’s worst offences. It isn’t.
Instead, millions of our fellow human beings continue to live as contemporary slaves, victims of abominable practices like human trafficking, forced labour and sexual exploitation. Countless children are forced to become soldiers, work in sweat shops or are sold by desperate families. Women are brutalized and traded like commodities. Entire households and villages labour under debt bondage.
The fact that these atrocities take place in today’s world should fill us all with shame. The realization that, in many instances, such practices are sanctioned, supported or ignored by those with the power and the responsibility to end them should lead us to outrage. But, above all else, the needs of the enslaved must inspire us to action.
It is up to each and every one of us to raise our voice against crimes that deprive countless victims of their liberty, dignity and human rights. We have to work together to realize the equal rights promised to all by the United Nations Charter. And we must collectively give meaning to the words of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that “no one shall be held in slavery or servitude”.
No individual, no community, and no country can remain silent in the face of this evil. Slavery is a problem for all regions and for all Governments. It must be confronted nationally, regionally and globally. We should also seek 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. Slavery’s practitioners thrive on the desperate, the dispossessed and the disadvantaged.
The United Nations is deeply committed to the fight against slavery. This year, the Human Rights Council has 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.
On this International Day for the Abolition of Slavery let us reaffirm the inherent dignity of all men, women and children. And let us redouble our efforts to build societies in which slavery truly is a term for the history books.
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