UN Secretary-general Antonia Guterres: world still lives in shadow of transatlantic slave trade

By Harrison Arubu/New York

UN Secretary-General António Guterres said the world “still lives in the shadow of the transatlantic slave trade” despite rejecting racism.

In a video message to mark the 2020 International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, Guterres said racism continues to plague the world.

The UN Chief emphasised that all structures and support systems of racism must be dismantled for the world to move forward.


Commemorated every year since 2008, the international day honours victims of the transatlantic slave trade considered the worst violation of human rights in history.

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The practice, which spanned over 400 years, saw no fewer than 15 million Africans snatched from their homelands and shipped overseas for forced labour .

Guterres said the theme of this year’s commemoration, “Confronting Slavery’s Legacy of Racism Together”, underscored the “strong role” racism continued to play in today’s world.

“This moving memorial commemorates the women, men and children who suffered and died after being forced onto slave ships to cross the Atlantic — one of the biggest crimes in the history of humankind.

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

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“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,” he said.

President of the UN General Assembly, Amb, Tijani Muhammad-Bande, called for strong policies and programmes by member-states to end hate speech, xenophobia and racism.

“We must take collective action to reaffirm our commitment to implement the Durban Declaration of the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance.

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