A tragedy of the past that questions our present
The slave trade which, from the 6th to the 20th century seized millions of Africans from their homeland to deport and enslave them in different parts of the world, has long been a hidden history. In order not to forget this tragedy, UNESCO launched in 1994 in Ouidah (Benin), The Slave Route Project: Resistance, Liberty, Heritage, whose aim is to meet the historical and moral obligation of tackling in a holistic, methodical and consensual manner this painful chapter in the history of humankind.
Through their struggles, their desire for dignity and freedom, slaves contributed to the universality of human rights. We must teach the names of the heroes of this story, because they are the heroes of all mankind.
Irina Bokova, Director General
Message for the Remembrance Day 2012
Through their struggles, their desire for dignity and freedom, slaves contributed to the universality of human rights. We must teach the names of the heroes of this story, because they are the heroes of all humankind.
In paying tribute, on 23 August each year, to the women and men who fought this oppression, UNESCO wishes to foster reflection and debate on a tragedy that has left its mark on the world as it is today.
Indeed, by means of the capital accumulated during the trade and the role it played in the industrialization of Europe and the Americas; the cultural interactions that have fuelled modern artistic creations, and the profound influence of abolitionism on modern human rights movements, this history has shaped our modern world.
Through the Slave Route Project, UNESCO also highlights the dialogue between peoples of different continents that have given rise to new cultural expressions contributing to the extraordinary diversity of the world, its creative force and its ability to perpetually reinvent itself. Art forms such as the Blues, Jazz, Soul, Reggae, Mayola, Candombe, Hip hop, Tango, Capoeira, as well as religious manifestations and expressions such as Voodoo, religious syncretism, are some of its results and constitute our common heritage.
Therefore, far from being a thing of the past, the issue of slavery and the slave trade concerns us all. It particularly engages the younger generations who have appropriated this legacy and who are fully mobilized in the struggle against racism and discrimination, lingering effects of this history. This past ultimately challenges us because it raises questions about many of the issues at stake today, such as national reconciliation, respect for cultural pluralism, identity and citizenship in a changing world.
On this Day of Commemoration, UNESCO invites people around the world to remember, to reflect on the consequences of the past on our present, on the new requirements of living together in our multicultural societies and on the fight against contemporary forms of slavery of which millions of human beings are still victims.
THE SLAVE ROUTE
BREAKING THE SILENCE WITH EDUCATION
MEMORY OF THE WORLD
INTERNATIONAL COALITION OF CITIES AGAINS RACISM
PERMANENT MEMORIAL IN NEW YORK
See also the interview of
Lilian Thuram, Sponsor of the film et Founder of
"Éducation contre le racisme"(in French)
Comparative analysis of historical slave systems and modern forms of human bondage. From this standpoint, concerns over human trafficking, debt-bondage, child labour and other related problems are analyzed in view of the historical strengths and weaknesses of the legal abolition of slavery.
- 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage
- 2001 Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity
- 1995 Declaration on Principles of Tolerance
- 1978 Declaration on Fundamental Principles conerning the contribution of the Mass Media to Strengthening Peace and International Understanding to the Promotion of Human Rights and to Countering Racialism, Apartheid and Incitement to War
- 1978 Declaration on Race and Racial Prejudice
- 1967 Statement on Race and Racial Prejudice
- 1960 Convention against Discrimination in Education
- 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights