Following is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message on the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, observed on 2 December:
This International Day for the Abolition of Slavery is more than a reminder of past crimes — it is a chance to renew our resolve to combat contemporary problems.
Slavery has many modern forms, from the children toiling as domestic servants, farmhands and factory workers, to the bonded labourers struggling to pay off ever-mounting debts, to the victims of sex trafficking who endure horrific abuse.
Although statistics about these crimes are difficult to compile, experts estimate that nearly 21 million people are enslaved in our world today. We have a responsibility to them — and to all those at risk — to end this outrage.
This is all the more important in our era of severe humanitarian crises. More than 60 million people have been driven from their homes. They may be at risk of trafficking and enslavement — along with millions of others crossing borders in search of a better life.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development offers an opportunity to fundamentally alter the conditions that fuel poverty, injustice and gender discrimination. By adopting it, world leaders committed to strengthening prosperity, peace and freedom for all people. They specifically set the objectives of eradicating forced labour and human trafficking — and ending all forms of modern slavery and child labour.
As we strive to achieve these targets, we must also rehabilitate freed victims and help them integrate into society. The United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund on Contemporary Forms of Slavery has for more than two decades extended humanitarian, financial and legal assistance to tens of thousands of victims around the world, making a meaningful difference in their lives. I urge Member States, businesses, private foundations and other donors to demonstrate their commitment to ending slavery by ensuring that this Fund has the resources to fulfil its mandate.
On this International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, let us resolve to use the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as a roadmap for stamping out root causes and freeing all enslaved people in our world.