On 10 July, 2014, at the United Nations Headquarters, the Exhibition “Victory Over Slavery: Haiti and Beyond” was opened, with the participation of the UNESCO Director-General, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the Permanent Representatives of the African Union, Haiti and Jamaica, as well many other Ambassadors, diplomats and civil society representatives
The exhibition presents a historical introduction to slavery, remembering and honoring those who suffered and died at the hands of the brutal slave trade system and it raises awareness about the dangers of racism and prejudice today.
Providing an overview of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, the exhibition focuses on the struggle for independence and freedom by slaves in Haiti. It also showcases the UNESCO Slave Route Project, launched 20 years ago to break the silence surrounding the slave trade.
Irina Bokova reminded the audience that “the history of slavery is not only one of suffering and injustice but also that of victorious fights for human rights”.
She highlighted UNESCO’s ongoing activities under the framework of the Slave Route Project, to “craft the right words and resources to share this history, to teach this history in schools with learners of all ages and backgrounds.”
Ms Bokova also shared the Organization’s contribution to the Permanent Memorial to the Victims of Transatlantic Slave Trade that will be launched at the UN headquarters in early 2015.
The 20th anniversary of the Slave Route Project featured also in the Secretary-General’s statement, who praised UNESCO for highlighting the “cultural contributions and interactions that were sparked by that history.” He expressed hope that the launch of the International Decade of People of African Descent in January 2015 would promote greater knowledge and respect of the diverse heritage, culture, and contribution by people of African descent to the development of societies.
During his speech, the Ambassador of Haiti said that "for all peoples of all continents, there is a duty to remember this immense tragedy that lasted several centuries. Slavery in the history of mankind remains an ‘injury’."
Commending the Secretary-General and the Director-General of UNESCO for their actions, the Ambassador emphasized that "it is an honor for the United Nations to contribute to keeping the memory of the past by activities such as this exhibition or projects like the future permanent Memorial to the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade".
"This exhibition reminds us that the international community must intensify its efforts to achieve this more humane, more equal, more caring world order that humanity is calling for," he concluded.