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Message from the UN Secretary General: International Day for the Abolition of Slavery

The International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, 2 December, marks the date of the adoption, by the General Assembly, of the United Nations Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others ( resolution 317(IV) of 2 December 1949).

 

Former child soldiers from the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), about to be demobilized, during a visit by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict in November 2009. UN Photo/Tim McKulka

 

The focus of this day is on eradicating contemporary forms of slavery, such as trafficking in persons, sexual exploitation, the worst forms of child labour, forced marriage, and the forced recruitment of children for use in armed conflict.

 

Today, 21 million women, men and children are trapped in slavery all over the world. The International Labour Organization (ILO) has teamed up with prominent artists, athletes and advocates in its new campaign to End Slavery Now.

 

In 2007 the UN marked the 200th Anniversary of the Abolition of the Transatlantic Slave Trade on 25 March. In 2008 the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade became an annual observance.

 

In honor of the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued the following message:

 

"Eighty-five years have passed since the entry into force of the Slavery Convention, yet this dehumanizing practice has acquired new manifestations in the 21st century.

 

Every day, in all regions of the world, women are trafficked, sold and locked in brothels for sexual exploitation. Little girls are forcibly married, sexually abused and used as domestic workers. Children work in mines, setting explosives and breathing toxic dust. Others are abducted and turned into soldiers, obliged to kill and torture. Men, separated from their families, are forced to work in plantations or locked in clandestine factories without any salary to repay never-ending debts.

 

The movement against slavery brought together the international community to declare that slavery practices constitute an affront to our common humanity and that no human being should be another's property. Today, governments, civil society and the private sector must unite to eradicate all contemporary forms of slavery. We have important tools with which to advance this goal. The United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund on Contemporary Forms of Slavery, for example, extends humanitarian, financial and legal assistance to victims. Over the past two decades, the Fund has assisted tens of thousands of victims of slavery in more than 90 countries. Yet the Fund is in dire need of funding to fulfil its mandate and respond to the growing need.

 

On the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, I call on governments and business enterprises to contribute to the UN Voluntary Trust Fund on Contemporary Forms of Slavery and its activities in support of victims worldwide. Together, let us do our utmost for the millions of victims throughout the world who are held in slavery and deprived of their human rights and dignity."