DIRECTOR-GENERAL'S MESSAGE ON THE OCCASION OF THE INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR THE REMEMBRANCE OF THE SLAVE TRADE AND ITS ABOLITION
Paris, August 16 (No.2001-87) - UNESCO Director-General Ko´chiro Matsuura has issued
the following message on the occasion of the International Day for the
Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition, August 23:
"The commemoration, on 23 August, of the slave trade and its abolition
takes place, this year, on the eve of the opening, on 31 August, of the
World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and
Related Intolerance in Durban (South Africa), involving the active
participation of all the organizations and agencies of the United
Nations system, and in particular of UNESCO.
"I should therefore like to take this opportunity to recall that, while
slavery is a universal phenomenon in the history of humanity, the form
that it took in the wake of the slave trade had three distinctive
features: its duration (approximately four centuries), its legal
organization through the "Black Codes" and, above all, the formulation
of theories using the racial factor to justify slavery. This deep-rooted
link between slavery and racism is generally acknowledged by historians.
Racism considered as one of the ideological foundations of slavery is
the subject of scientific research and analysis under the "Slave Route"
project that the UNESCO General Conference unanimously approved with a
view to exploring the underlying causes, forms and consequences of the
slave trade and slavery.
"UNESCO attaches the greatest importance to the scientific rigour of
this work and to the elucidation of the historical truth in order that
such research should generate universal awareness of the tragedy that
the slave trade and slavery constituted.
"It is in this spirit that I call on all Member States and all
non-governmental organizations concerned to observe the International
Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition by way of
reflection, information and action, particularly through the involvement
of young people, educators, artists and intellectuals, and by
highlighting especially the issue of the relationship between slavery