New York

01 February 2011

Secretary-General's message on launch of website for Permanent Memorial to Honour the Victims of Slavery and the Translatlantic Slave Trade [delivered by Mr. Kiyo Akasaka, Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information]

It is a pleasure to greet all who have gathered to mark the launch of the website for the permanent memorial honouring the victims of slavery and the transatlantic slave trade. This is an important step forward in making this memorial a reality at the United Nations Headquarters complex.

The memorial will acknowledge the crimes and atrocities perpetrated over the course of four centuries, when millions of Africans were violently removed from their homelands, ruthlessly abused and robbed of their dignity. The legacy lives on today in the families and countries that were affected.

The memorial will also remind the world of the bravery of those slaves, abolitionists and unsung heroes who managed to rise up against an oppressive system and end the practice.

It will also serve as a call to action against contemporary manifestations of slavery. The abolition of the trans-Atlantic slave trade in the 19th century did not eradicate the practice globally. Instead, it took on other forms, which persist to this day: serfdom, debt bondage and forced and bonded labour; trafficking in women and children, domestic slavery and forced prostitution, including of children; sexual slavery, forced marriage and the sale of wives; child labour and child servitude, among others.

This reality obliges the international community to bring perpetrators to justice and to continue pursuing with vigour its efforts to uphold human rights and human dignity.

I thank Jamaica, the Caribbean Community and the African Group for their initiative in working for a permanent memorial and for creating the website that will advance that effort. I also thank all those Governments for their generous financial contributions, and encourage more such contributions, including from individuals and the private sector, as the website makes possible. I wish all involved every success.