UN officials urge concerted action to eradicate modern forms of slavery

UN officials urge concerted action to eradicate modern forms of slavery

UNITED NATIONS, Dec. 2 (Xinhua) -- Top United Nations officials on Monday marked the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery with a call for concerted action to eradicate the contemporary forms of this heinous practice.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his message for the Day that "It is vital that we give special consideration to ending modern-day slavery and servitude which affects the poorest, most socially excluded groups -- including migrants, women, discriminated ethnic groups, minorities and indigenous peoples."

The International Day marks the date in 1949 of the adoption by the General Assembly of the UN Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others.

The focus of the day is on eradicating contemporary forms of slavery, such as trafficking in persons, sexual exploitation, the worst forms of child labor, forced marriage and the forced recruitment of children for use in armed conflict.

According to the UN International Labor Organization (ILO), 21 million women, men and children are trapped in slavery all over the world today.

The UN chief noted that important progress has been made in stronger legislation and greater coordination by a number of countries to combat slavery. Also, more and more businesses are working to ensure their activities do not cause or contribute to contemporary forms of slavery in the workplace and their supply chains.

"I strongly support these initiatives and urge all Member States to ratify the Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, develop robust and effective domestic legislation and boost enforcement on the ground," Ban said. "The partnership of the private sector in implementing these efforts is critical."

He also urged continued support for the UN Voluntary Trust Fund on Contemporary Forms of Slavery, which has helped restore human rights and dignity to tens of thousands of children, women and men for more than 20 years, he said.

Also on Monday, the president of the UN General Assembly, John W. Ashe, said in his message that the Day serves as a reminder to all people that, much like its historical antecedent, modern slavery is an egregious violation of a person's basic human rights.

"The majority of those who suffer are the most vulnerable and marginalized in society," the president said.

"Each year, hundreds of thousands of men, women and children are kidnapped and sold into bondage across international borders. Trafficking in persons is an issue of great global concern and affects almost all countries," Ashe noted.

"This inhumane activity continues to flourish owing to vast economic disparities between nations, increasing flows of labor and commodities across international borders and transnational organized criminal networks," he said.

The president called on UN member states to eradicate slavery in all its forms; to boost initiatives that promote social inclusion; and to end all forms of discrimination.

"We must promote and protect the rights of those most vulnerable within our societies, and help to restore the dignity of victims of slavery," he said.