UNESCO says slave trade reminder of importance of teaching history

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

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UNITED NATIONS, United States (CMC) — A senior official with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) says while the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition is a tribute to every victim and their resistance against slavery, it is also a reminder of the importance of teaching history.

“The legacy of the slave trade is a symbolic victory for human rights freedom; and the International Day acts as a reminder of the eternal effort to reaffirm human dignity and break down ignorance,” said Nada Al-Nashif, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences as the world Wednesday observes the International Day of Remembrance.

Since its 1998 establishment, the commemoration has “provided an opportunity to look back at the legacy of the slave trade and to understand how the uprising that began in 1791, in what is now Haiti, was symbolic of a victory for freedom and human rights,” the UN said.

Al-Nashif said that many regions of the world consider it to be a day of common heritage that symbolises “a call for freedom, for justice and for dialogue among people.”

She said it is “important to understand the limitation of interpretation, to change the silence and to act together to make resistance against slavery an inspirational force for future generation.”

The UNESCO official said that its “call for truth” permeates UNESCO's work in appealing for social justice, the reduction of inequality and the preservation of human dignity and human rights.

Al-Nashif said the Slave Route Project has “contributed substantially to fostering greater awareness of the ethical, political, socio-economic and cultural aspects of this chapter of history, and even the official recognition of slavery as a crime against humanity by the United Nations.

She said the project also speaks to remedy the general ignorance on the history of Africa by reconstructing it – freeing it from racial prejudice – and re-reading the history through purely African perspectives or more objective views of scientists or researchers.

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