For the UN International Day for the Abolition of Slavery Friday 2 December 2011 (Joint statement by the UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery and the UN Trust Fund on contemporary forms of slavery) 20 years fighting the modern faces of slavery

GENEVA – “Slavery is not history,” reminded once again the United Nations Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery its causes and consequences, Gulnara Shahinian. “Despite significant progress in the fight against slavery in many parts of the world, these efforts seem to be insufficient.”

“However, victims of slavery are not alone,” Ms. Shahinian stressed. “Today, we celebrate 20 years of the UN Trust Fund on contemporary forms of slavery which since 1991 has been extending humanitarian, legal and financial aid to those whose human rights have been violated as a result of contemporary forms of slavery, and assisting NGOs from different regions that deal with contemporary forms of slavery.”

“The Fund bridges the gaps not addressed by other donors and is able to provide concrete assistance to the victims of contemporary forms of slavery,” said Virginia Murillo, Chair of the Board of Trustees for the UN Voluntary Trust Fund on Contemporary Forms of Slavery. “It has supported more than 400 projects in 90 countries, which have directly assisted thousands of victims and potential victims in all parts of the world.”

“Our grants include medical, psychological, education and housing assistance for women and girls who have been trafficked or forced into marriage; vocational training to adults and children who have been trafficked; support for rehabilitation centres for children who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation; and projects to identify and release bonded labourers,” Ms. Murillo explained.

“Slavery is a worldwide phenomenon affecting all countries,” Special Rapporteur Shahinian reiterated. “Whether it exists as part of religious, economic or social system, contemporary forms of slavery exist as a result of demand. The result of the labour only serves to benefit a greedy and selfish few who exploit women, men, girls and boys.”

“The Fund has played an important and unique role in promoting and protecting human rights of slavery victims for the last 20 years, but this is just the beginning,” said the Special Rapporteur, echoing a recent appeal by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, for countries to continue contributing to the work of the UN Trust Fund on contemporary forms of slavery.

In his message for the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon appeals to all governments, business enterprises, NGOs and other partners to demonstrate their commitment to fighting slavery by making a financial contribution to the Trust Fund, and by working closely together to end this scourge.

The Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery its causes and consequences: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Slavery/SRSlavery/Pages/SRSlaveryIndex.aspx

For additional information regarding the mandate please email: srslavery@ohchr.org.

The UN Trust Fund on contemporary forms of slavery: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Slavery/Pages/SlaveryFundMain.aspx

For additional information regarding the Trust Fund please email: SlaveryFund@ohchr.org.

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

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