Ignorance or concealment of major historical events constitutes an obstacle to mutual understanding, reconciliation and cooperation among peoples. UNESCO’s Slave Route project: Resistance, Liberty, Heritage has broken the silence surrounding the slave trade and slavery that have concerned all continents and caused the great upheavals that have shaped our modern societies.
Launched in 1994 in Ouidah, Benin, on a proposal from Haiti, it pursues the following objectives:
- Contribute to a better understanding of the causes, forms of operation, stakes and consequences of slavery in the world (Africa, Europe, the Americas, the Caribbean, the Indian Ocean, Middle East and Asia);
- Highlight the global transformations and cultural interactions that have resulted from this history;
- Contribute to a culture of peace by promoting reflection on inclusion, cultural pluralism, intercultural dialogue and the construction of new identities and citizenships
Under the guidance of its International Scientific Committee, the project continues to encourage new research in neglected regions; to define new approaches for the teaching of this history; to elaborate new guides for the identification, preservation and promotion of sites and itineraries of memory related to the slave trade and slavery; to promote the contributions of people of African descent to the construction of contemporary societies; and, to preserve written archives and intangible heritage related to this history.
Marcus Miller, Spokesperson
Marcus Miller, renowned American jazz musician, composer and producer, was nominated UNESCO Artist for Peace and Spokesperson for the Slave Route Project, by UNESCO's Director-General, on 4 July 2013.
Mr. Miller raises awareness about a phenomenon that has had a profound impact on the modern world, from religion and culture to the human rights movement. As an Artist for Peace, he promotes the lessons learnt from the tragedy of slavery and the slave trade, and how they can be used to address many of today’s major issues: national reconciliation, respect for cultural pluralism and the need to construct inclusive and just societies.
- Marcus Miller: singing freedom
- Marcus Miller celebrates Emancipation at the United Nations
- Jazzman Marcus Miller named UNESCO Artist for Peace
- Marcus Miller: acceptance speech UNESCO Artist for Peace Title
International Scientific Committee
The role of this advisory body is to advise UNESCO on the implementation of the project, in particular with regard to the development of educational material and programmes, research into various aspects of the slave trade and slavery and the formation of new partnerships to promote its objectives.
It has 20 members appointed by the Director-General. They represent not only various disciplines (such as history, anthropology, archaeology, sociology and law) but also various regions of the world (Africa, the Americas, the Caribbean, Europe, the Indian Ocean, the Arab States and Asia).
Collection of educational materials on the influence of Afro-descended in Central America
The UNESCO Office in San José (Costa Rica) has developed the Collection "Del Olvido a la memoria" (From oblivion to memory), educational materials on the influence of Afro-descended in Central America.
Produced in collaboration with the University of Costa Rica (UCR) and the National Museum of the country, this collection includes a five volumes series of teaching materials that are part of an initiative of Central America countries to eliminate the ignorance about the influence of populations of African descent in the region.
Funded by UNESCO, this series of publications is part of The Slave Route Project and accompanies its new orientations with regard to geographical expansion to regions insufficiently covered on this topic and introduction of new themes.
Besides the dissemination of these materials, UNESCO is working actively towards their inclusion into curricula of Central America countries and organizes workshops to:
- Validate the content of brochures prepared by UNESCO on the African presence in Central America
- Provide teachers with suggestions and recommendations for working with students, promoting learning about African heritage in each country
- Obtain recommendations to implement the study of history, the presence and contribution of Africans in Central America in the educational programs of Ministries of Education respectively
As of 2018, "Building Our Nation: The Contribution of Afro-Caribbean Migration in Costa Rica" is available online (in Spanish). This is a mini-series of documentaries that can be used as an educational tool, produced by the Chair of African and Caribbean Studies and the Vice-Rectory of Teaching of the University of Costa Rica, with the support of UNESCO. The four documentaries provide a first-hand account, through testimonies, of the experience of migrants from the Caribbean islands in the process of integrating their descendants into the country.
- Transatlantic Slave Trade (web archives)
- Trade in the Indian Ocean (web archives)
- Resistances and abolitions (web archives)
- Trade in the Arabo-Muslim world (web archives)
- Modern forms of slavery
- Cultural expressions and slave trade abolition