Statement by Ambassador Susan E. Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, on the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade

Susan E. Rice
U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations 
U.S. Mission to the United Nations 
New York, NY
March 25, 2010


This year, as we recognize the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, we honor the millions of victims of slavery, and we salute all those who sought to break its cruel chains and stand between innocents and the lash. 

Last July, President Obama visited Cape Coast Castle in Ghana, a place of suffering from which countless men, women, and children were sold into slavery and then crammed onto boats to brave the horrific and extremely dangerous “Middle Passage” across the Atlantic Ocean. The President urged us to gaze unflinchingly on the lowest moral points of history to imbue ourselves with a “sense of obligation to fight oppression and cruelty wherever it appears.”

Today, we continue to struggle to eradicate slavery in all of its forms.  There still are those who, in the words of President Lincoln, wring their bread from the sweat of others’ faces. The scourge of modern slavery, including human trafficking, continues to tear at our common humanity and to rip the social fabric of communities around the world.

The international community must redouble its efforts to combat modern slavery and human trafficking by fully implementing existing trafficking laws and prosecuting its perpetrators. 

The United States continues to bear witness to the legacy of slavery and the modern global trade in innocent people. The best way for us to address past scars is to work to heal present wounds, and the most fitting way to honor those who suffered so terribly under slavery on our own shores in decades past is to put an end to slavery everywhere for all time. As President Obama said in Ghana, “As bad as history can be, it's also possible to overcome.” Today, let us rededicate ourselves to the mighty task of setting free the captive—and to ensure that all make the journey from slavery to freedom.


PRN: 2010/051