Each year on this day we honour the memory of the millions of men, women and children who endured the curse of slavery. By recalling the causes, consequences and lessons of the transatlantic slave trade, we recommit to educating current and future generations of the dangers of racism and prejudice.
The theme of this year’s observance is “Victory over Slavery: Haiti and Beyond”. It pays tribute to the fight against slavery in nations around the world and marks 210 years since the Republic of Haiti became the first nation to win independence as a result of the struggle of enslaved men and women. We are also marking the 20th anniversary of the UNESCO Slave Route Project, launched to break the silence surrounding the slave trade and its consequences.
At United Nations Headquarters, work is under way on a Permanent Memorial to the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. It will stand as a constant reminder of the courage of slaves, abolitionists and unsung heroes who helped end the oppression of slavery. It will promote greater recognition of the contributions that slaves and their descendants have made in their societies.
I hope the Memorial will also be a source of inspiration in the continuing fight against the many forms of slavery that still exist today. Around the world, millions of people are subject to human trafficking, debt bondage, sexual slavery and domestic servitude while the perpetrators of these violations of human rights operate with impunity.
On this day, let us remember the abuses of the past and intensify our efforts to end those of the present.