‘Racist lie’ must end, UN chief warns on Remembrance Day for enslaved people

Although the transatlantic slave trade ended more than two centuries ago, “the ideas of white supremacy that underpinned it remain alive”, the UN chief said on Thursday, the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

“We must end the legacy of this racist lie”, Secretary-General António Guterres said at a commemorative meeting of the General Assembly that honoured the memory of the millions of people of African descent who suffered under the brutal system of slavery and the transatlantic slave trade.

While recalling the resilience of those who endured the “brutal yoke” of slavery, he recognized the trade as creating and sustaining “a global system of exploitation that existed for more than 400 years”.

The UN chief underscored the need to address the “pernicious and persistent consequences” of slavery and called for renewed commitments to “a world where all can live in peace with dignity and opportunity”.

Guterres also acknowledged the “immense contributions” that the enslaved have brought to culture, education and economies.

“We honour the memory of the victims of the transatlantic slave trade by educating about its history and acknowledging its impact on our world today”, he said, urging everyone to “tackle racism, injustice and inequality” and build inclusive communities and economies.

As of 2016, over 40.3 million people were estimated to be enslaved in modern forms, 71 per cent of whom are women and girls.