United Nations approves construction of permanent memorial for victims of slavery

posted in: Africa

Photo: “Viccisitudes” by Jason deCaires Taylor

New York, US- The UN General Assembly has adopted a resolution approving the construction of a permanent memorial at the UN headquarters in New York, to honour victims of slavery and the transatlantic slave trade.

A UN statement issued on Tuesday, said the resolution was adopted at a session of the Assembly on Monday, and called on member states and other interested parties to contribute to the Trust Fund set up to mobilise funds for the construction work.

PANA reports that the session was held to commemorate the 206th anniversary of the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade.

It said that the resolution was adopted without a vote, while the Assembly also noted with satisfaction the successful conclusion of the international design competition for the Permanent Memorial, and the selection of the design “Ark of Return” as the winning model.

It also said that the Assembly took note of the UN Secretary-General’s report on the educational outreach programme on slavery and the slave trade, aimed at increasing public awareness, educating future generations and communicating the dangers of racism and prejudice.

The resolution also asked the secretary-general to report to the Assembly, at its 69th session, on continued action to implement the programme.

The Assembly further asked the secretary-general to organise a series of activities annually to commemorate the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

It also requested that the UN Department of Public Information continue appropriate steps to enhance global public awareness of the commemorative activities and facilitate efforts to erect the Permanent Memorial.

The General Assembly President, Mr. John Ashe, said that 310 artists from 83 countries participated in the design competition for the Permanent Memorial.

The winning design that the judges considered to be most expressive of the desired message was appropriately entitled “The Ark of Return”, and its creative artist, Rodney Leon, was a native of Haiti, a country with an illustrious history in the struggle to end slavery.

Mr. Ashe hoped that the soon-to-be-erected memorial would serve as a tribute to the collective aspirations of the United Nations: peace, human rights, social justice, and the dignity of the human person.

Noting that the year 2013 marked the 206th anniversary of the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade, he said that the Assembly’s engagement with the question of slavery and the slave trade continued with the current resolution.

He also urged UN member states to continue to raise public awareness about the legacy of this dark period in human history.

“Through their various efforts, Member States, UN agencies and civil society partners have celebrated the indomitable spirit of the victims of a tragedy that continues to be inflicted upon numerous persons today, albeit in more subtle forms, including social and economic inequality, hatred, bigotry, racism and prejudice,” the Assembly president stressed.

The UN said that spanning over a 400-year period, the transatlantic slave trade was the largest forced migration in history.

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