UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday called on governments and societies to recommit to eradicating slavery, and underscored the need to recognize the painful legacy of slavery and the growing of its modern forms.
In a message to mark the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, Guterres stressed the need "to recognize that the legacy of the transatlantic trade of enslaved Africans reverberates to this day, scarring our societies and impeding equitable development."
"We must also identify and eradicate contemporary forms of slavery, such as trafficking in persons, sexual exploitation, child labor, forced marriage and the use of children in armed conflict," he said.
Guterres cited the latest Global Estimates of Modern Slavery on forced labor and forced marriage, which reveal that some 50 million people were enslaved in 2021 and this number has been growing.
He noted that the most marginalized groups remain particularly vulnerable, including ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities, migrants, children and persons with diverse gender identities and sexual orientations, with the majority of the vulnerables being women.
In his message, the UN chief called on governments and societies to recommit to eradicating slavery, saying that increased action needs to be taken with full participation of all stakeholders, including the private sector, trade unions, civil society and human rights institutions.
"I also urge all countries to protect and uphold the rights of victims and survivors of slavery," he added.
The International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, commemorated annually on Dec. 2, marks the date of the adoption of the UN Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others in 1949. The convention entered into force in 1951.