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December 5, 2004

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2004: International year to commemorate the struggle against slavery

The slave trade is probably the human tragedy that affected the greatest number of people for the longest period of time in history. However, it is only an episode of slavery, which is a larger phenomenon that dates back to the earliest antiquity.

Today, it persists under new forms of massive violations of the human rights proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations in 1948 (child labour, forced labour, prostitution...etc).

The proclamation by the United Nations General Assembly of the year 2004 as international year to commemorate the struggle against slavery and its abolition marks, on the one hand, the bicentenary of the proclamation of the first black state, Haiti, symbol of the struggle and resistance of slaves, and triumph of the principles of liberty, equality, dignity and the rights of the individual, and, on the other, the fraternal reunion of the peoples of Africa, the Americas, the Caribbean and Europe.

The aims of the commemoration are to:
Sensitize the member states of the organization to the consequences of slavery and its abolition throughout the African diaspora, and take cognizance of the struggle for the liberation of the peoples concerned;

Commemorate the bicentenary of the Haitian revolution which led to the establishment of the first black republic in the western hemisphere, and, by extension, to the liberation of the peoples of the Caribbean and Latin America from slavery;

Mobilize the international community, the academic world and civil society towards helping to promote a culture of peace in redressing the aftermath of this tragedy, in order to prevent new forms of slavery.

UNESCO's action in 2004 will hinge on a number of priority thrusts adopting an inter-sectoral, multidisciplinary and inter-institutional approach pinpointing in particular the "Slave Route" project with the following principal axes: historic truth, memory, intercultural dialogue, development and peace. It is in this regard that the commemoration is of universal interest, it will not simply refer to the past, but will give a clear view of the present, offering lasting prospects of intercultural dialogue in the future.

Source: UNESCO website.

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