[JURIST] UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official profile] on Thursday called for a renewed international commitment to eradicate all forms of slavery [statement text]. Ban's comments took place on the International Day of Remembrance of Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade [press release], which is held annually pursuant to General Assembly resolution A/62/L.32 [text]. In his statement, Ban said that the fight against slavery continues even though the practice may now take different forms than it has in the past:
Slavery is abhorrent. It is explicitly prohibited by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the United Nations has reaffirmed this principle many times, including in the Durban Declaration adopted at the 2001 World Conference Against Racism.Ban's sentiments were echoed in a statement [text] by Permanent US Representative to the UN Susan Rice [official profile].
But slavery and slavery-like practices continue in many parts of the world. Slavery is mutating and re-emerging in modern forms, including debt bondage, the sale of children, and the trafficking of women and girls for sex. Its roots lie in ignorance, intolerance and greed.
We must create a climate in which such abuse and cruelty are inconceivable. One way is by remembering the past and honouring the victims of the transatlantic slave trade. By reminding ourselves of past injustices, we help to ensure that such systematic abuse of human rights can never be repeated.
In January, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website] ruled [JURIST report] that sex trafficking violates conventions against slavery and forced labor, finding both Russia and Cyprus liable in the case of a young woman who came from Russia to work in a Cyprus cabaret and was later found dead. In November 2009, the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] began proceedings [JURIST report] for the trial of two Congolese Nationals charged with war crimes including sexual slavery. During the same month, the War Crimes Court [official website, in Bosnian] of Bosnia and Herzegovina convicted [JURIST report] former Serbian commander Predrag Kujundzic of crimes against humanity, also accusing him of facilitating sexual slavery. In June 2009, the US Senate [official website] unanimously passed [JURIST report] a resolution [S Con Res 26 text, PDF] apologizing to African-Americans for slavery and racial segregation.