Secretary-General's remarks at ceremony for the unveiling of the winning design for a Permanent Memorial to the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade
New York, 23 September 2013
It is a great honour to welcome you to the Secretariat on this special occasion.
In 2007, the United Nations commemorated the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the Transatlantic Slave Trade.
The anniversary led to the launch of an initiative by the members of the Caribbean Community and the African Union to erect a permanent memorial to honour the victims of slavery and the legacy of the transatlantic slave trade.
The initiative was embraced by all UN Member States, and led to the adoption of a General Assembly resolution calling for the establishment of a permanent memorial here at UN Headquarters.
The memorial will acknowledge the struggle of the millions of Africans who, over the course of four centuries, were violently removed from their homelands, ruthlessly abused and robbed of their dignity.
The United Nations Charter – at its core – opposes racism and upholds equality.
The United Nations stands for respect of the dignity of every individual.
It is therefore fitting that the memorial be placed on UN grounds as a symbol of the universal recognition of a tragedy that befell Africans and people of African descent.
The memorial will serve as a reminder of the bravery of those slaves, abolitionists and unsung heroes who managed to rise up against an oppressive system, fight for their freedom and end the practice.
Moreover, it is hoped that the memorial will lead to a greater recognition of the contributions that slaves and their descendants have made in their societies.
By breaking the silence that has covered this bleak period of history, and by honouring the victims, the memorial will also serve as a call to action to ensure that this tragedy is never repeated.
And by teaching future generations to remember, we work to address the lingering consequences of slavery.
The United Nations educational outreach programme on the Transatlantic Slave Trade and slavery and the Permanent Memorial are complementary.
Today, we are happy to have reached the end of the judging process for the selection of the winning design for the Permanent Memorial.
The slave trade is etched into the collective memory of humankind. As we admire the winning design, let us look forward to the day when the memorial takes its rightful place here at the United Nations.
Statements on 23 September 2013
- New York, 23 September 2013 - Secretary-General's remarks at High-Level Event on Supporting Civil Society [delivered by the Deputy Secretary-General]
- New York, 23 September 2013 - Secretary-General's message to African Union Peace and Security Council meeting on UN-AU Cooperation Segment on Sudan-South Sudan Relations [delivered by Mr. Haile Menkerios, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Sudan and South Sudan]
- New York, 23 September 2013 - Secretary-General's remarks to African Union Peace and Security Council meeting on UN-AU Cooperation [Bilingual, as delivered version is below; scroll further down for all-English version]
- New York, 23 September 2013 - Secretary-General's remarks to Second Meeting of the Regional Oversight Mechanism (11+4) of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the DRC and the Region [the bilingual version, as delivered, is followed by an all-English version]
- New York, 23 September 2013 - Secretary-General's remarks at High-Level Forum on Accelerating MDG-5
- New York, 23 September 2013 - Secretary-General's welcome address at Opening Session of "MDG Success: Accelerating Action and Partnering for Impact"
- Windhoek, Namibia, 23 September 2013 - Secretary-General's message to 11th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification [Delivered by Ms. Veerle Vanderweerd, Head of delegation of United Nations Development Programme]
- New York, 23 September 2013 - Remarques au petit déjeuner de travail consacré à des Consultations Ministérielles Informelles de la Francophonie: Concertation Francophonie de Haut Niveau
- New York, 23 September 2013 - Secretary-General's statement at the High-Level Meeting of the General Assembly on Disability and Development