Slavery still exists and is even harder to eradicate now because of the clandestine nature in which it operates.
The United Nation, UN, has called for an end to remnants of slavery while it honoured the memory of 15 million innocent victims who suffered over four centuries as a result of the transatlantic slave trade.
Speaking at the commemoration of the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, held at its Headquarters in New York on Monday, Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, cited the words of renowned Martinique-born poet Aime Cesaire.
Cesaire had cautioned against the risks of complacency and “spectatorship” when faced with the evils of human bondage.
“We must be more than spectators. While we recall slavery’s horrors, we must also address the lingering consequences.
“While we remember the victims, we pledge to fight for equality, justice and peace,” Ban said, adding that this was “the most meaningful way” to honour the memory of those victimised by slavery.
He also highlighted the plight of millions more who still endure the brutality of modern slavery.
This year’s commemoration “falling under the theme Forever Free: Celebrating Emancipation’’, paid tribute to the emancipation of slaves across the world through films, music, dance, poetry, exhibitions and literature.
In addition, original copies of the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the two documents credited with ending slavery in the U.S., were displayed as part of the exhibition at UN Headquarters.
Ban called the event “the culmination of a series of powerful remembrances,” as he highlighted the importance of memory in fighting future instances of slavery.
“We are here to recall the struggle of the victims of the transatlantic slave trade. We remember their degradation and deaths. And we teach future generations to remember as well,” he added.
In his address, Ken Kanda, Ambassador of Ghana warned that the “profound social and economic inequality, hatred, bigotry, racism and prejudice,” which many people of African descent around the world continue to endure is “a distressing and stubborn legacy of the heinous trade in human beings”.
He emphasised that the meeting is an opportunity to reflect on the past without losing sight of the present, in which “the unspeakable horror of slavery persists” in numerous forms around the world.
“Forced labour and child labour, the trafficking of persons, the recruitment of child soldiers, the sexual exploitation of women, have all been identified by the UN as contemporary forms of slavery,” Mr. Kanda declared.
He pointed out that although modern enslavement is neither as systematic nor institutionalised as its historic incarnation, it remained difficult to eradicate due to its clandestine nature.
“Majority of the people who suffer the modern trend belongs to the poorest, most vulnerable and marginalise social groups in society,” he remarked.
“This meeting of nations of the General Assembly, this great pantheon of hope for humanity, must play an active role.”