UN HUMAN RIGHTS INSTITUTIONS APPEAL TO COUNTRIES TO ERADICATE ALL FORMS OF SLAVERY

1 December 2004


The Board of Trustees of the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund on Contemporary Forms of Slavery, the United Nations Working Group on Contemporary Forms of Slavery, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially in women and children and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights make the following appeal to the global community on the occasion of the United Nations International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, 2 December 2004:

It is an appalling reality that today millions of human beings all over the world continue to be enslaved. Trafficking, debt bondage, exploitation of prostitution and forced labour violate the most fundamental human rights, rights that we all possess -- irrespective of sex, nationality, social status, occupation or other difference.

When the United Nations General Assembly two years ago proclaimed 2004 the International Year to Commemorate the Struggle against Slavery and its Abolition it was guided by three underlying ideas: To raise awareness on the issue, to take urgent action to combat these heinous practices and to assist victims of slavery. The many efforts made during this year cannot stop when the year comes to an end. On the contrary these important initiatives must continue and be intensified in the future.

There are two goals which remain of primary importance: The need to address the root causes of slavery and the need to assist and protect the victims. Indeed the elimination of slavery cannot be achieved without combating poverty, social exclusion, illiteracy, ignorance and discrimination in all its forms.

Over the recent past, the issue of trafficking in human beings has rightly received unprecedented attention in international and human rights fora. The Commission on Human Rights at its last session established a new mandate – the United Nations Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially in women and children. We would like to urge States to ratify and implement existing instruments, in particular the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children to the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime and make use of the “Principles and Guidelines on Human Rights and Human Trafficking” prepared by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

On this day, we express our profound commitment to the struggle against slavery and particularly to the victims. We appeal to Member States to implement their obligations to abolish and eradicate slavery in all its manifestations. We also call upon the international community to express its solidarity with victims of slavery by contributing generously to the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund on Contemporary Forms of Slavery to allow it to increase its assistance to victims and contribute to ending these intolerable and unacceptable practices worldwide.