‘We Urgently Need to Raise Our Voices against All Expressions of Racism and Instances of Racist Behaviour’ – Int’l Day of Remembrance of Victims of Slavery and Transatlantic Slave Trade

Human Wrongs Watch

(UN News)* — In his message for the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, observed on Wednesday [25 March 2020], the UN Secretary-General called for the dismantling of racist structures and institutions so that the world can move forward.

UN Photo/Devra Berkowitz | Details from ‘Ark of Return,’ the permanent memorial in acknowledgement of the tragedy and in consideration of the legacy of slavery and the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

“Racism is the reason why outside Africa, people of African descent are often among the last in line for health care, education, justice and opportunities of all kinds”, he said.


“We need to raise our voices against all expressions of racism and instances of racist behaviour. We urgently need to dismantle racist structures and reform racist institutions. We can only move forward by confronting the racist legacy of slavery together”.

António Guterres


The transatlantic slave trade is one of the biggest crimes in the history of humankind.

And we continue to live in its shadow.

We can only move forward by confronting the racist legacy of slavery together.https://bit.ly/2vNba58 

Stolen futures

The international day pays tribute to the millions of Africans forcibly removed from their homelands over a 400-year period, starting in 1501.

This year’s theme focuses on racism, which Mr. Guterres said continues to play “a strong role” in the world today.

Meanwhile, the UN General Assembly President urged countries to commit to stamp out racism and racial discrimination.

“The transatlantic slave trade seeded deep inequalities within societies. Economies prospered at a great human cost: entire industries were built upon the suffering of fellow human beings”, said the top Nigerian diplomat and academic, Tijanii Muhammad-Bande.

“Slavery ended many lives and stole the future of successive generations. The descendants of those who were enslaved continue to face enduring social and economic inequality, intolerance, prejudice, racism, and discrimination”.

End modern slavery

The General Assembly unites all 193 UN Member States, and Mr. Muhammad-Bande called for countries to recognize the contribution made by people of African descent.

He further called for action to end slavery now in the modern era, whose victims number some 40 million people worldwide, mainly women and children.

“The onus is upon every Member State to eradicate trafficking, forced labour, servitude and slavery. None of us will be truly free whilst these people suffer”, he said.

“We simply cannot be indifferent to injustice. It is incumbent upon each of us to uphold the human rights of everyone, everywhere”.

COVID-19 and compassion

The International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade has been celebrated annually on 25 March since 2007.

A commemorative ceremony, exhibition and other events are normally held at UN Headquarters in New York but were cancelled this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr. Muhammad-Bande regretted that the ceremony had to be postponed, adding “the COVID-19 pandemic reinforces the fact that we have a duty to open our minds to the lived experiences of others”. *(SOURCE: UN News).


Transatlantic slave trade

The transatlantic slave trade was the largest forced migration in history, and undeniably one of the most inhumane. The extensive exodus of Africans spread to many areas of the world over a 400-year period and was unprecedented in the annals of recorded human history.**

As a direct result of the transatlantic slave trade, the greatest movement of Africans was to the Americas — with 96 per cent of the captives from the African coasts arriving on cramped slave ships at ports in South America and the Caribbean Islands.

From 1501 to 1830, four Africans crossed the Atlantic for every one European, making the demographics of the Americas in that era more of an extension of the African diaspora than a European one.  The legacy of this migration is still evident today, with large populations of people of African descent living throughout the Americas.

Commemorating the memory of the victims

In commemoration of the memory of the victims, the General Assembly, in its resolution 62/122 of 17 December 2007, declared 25 March the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, to be observed annually.

The resolution also called for the establishment of an outreach programme to mobilize educational institutions, civil society and other organizations to inculcate in future generations the “causes, consequences and lessons of the transatlantic slave trade, and to communicate the dangers of racism and prejudice.” **(SOURCE: United Nations)

2020 Human Wrongs Watch

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