Building peace in the minds of men and women

Launch of the publication "The Transatlantic Slave Trade and Slavery: New Directions in Teaching and Learning"

On the occasion of the launch of the publication devoted to the teaching of slave trade and slavery, the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, and the President of the Executive Board, Alissandra Cummins marked the event with a presentation of the book published by Africa World Press in the presence of the President of the International Scientific Committee of the UNESCO Slave Route project, Elisa Gutierrez Velasquez, and Professor Paul Lovejoy, co-editor of the book and former Director of the Harriet Tubman Institute.

The presentation took place in the presence of several Ambassadors, Representatives of Member States of UNESCO and its Executive Board.

The Director-General underlined that the history of slave trade and slavery represents a unique contribution to the humanistic ideal of promoting universal human rights -- hence, the importance of making this history an engine for intercultural dialogue in our plural societies.

"Education is essential for raising awareness about the slave trade and slavery and for better understanding the societies we live in today," said Irina Bokova.

The Director-General pursued by underscoring that UNESCO attaches deep importance to transmitting the history of the transatlantic slavery and its abolition, as being essential to the struggle against racism, for the observance of human rights, of human dignity and for building peace.

“The story of slave trade raises issues that affect the very foundation of our humanity”, she declared.  

The Director-General highlighted the importance of exploring the trail of the transmission of history in textbooks, teaching materials and teacher training.

Irina Bokova recalled the need to integrate this issue into formal education, as a lever for national reconciliation, for mutual understanding and social inclusion. 

The Chair of the Executive Board emphasized in her introduction the need for a breakthrough of scientific research on the history of the transatlantic slave trade which, she said "is still absent in textbooks, in films, and in the media".

She further underscored the high "expectations generated through the Slave Route project in different regions and countries over the last ten years", and in the context of the Decade for People of African Descent (2013-2023).

The Chair urged "UNESCO to directly contribute to raising awareness on the slave trade in neglected regions, such as the Indian Ocean, Middle East and Asia".

Professor Paul Lovejoy recalled the inception of UNESCO's Slave Route project in 1994, underscoring its paramount objective "to make justice to the past" and "to identify and recognize diversity ".

In concluding, the Director-General said "the history of the slave trade and its abolition shaped the world in which we live. We are all heirs to this past, which has transformed the world's map, its laws, and cultures".