United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

Closing session of the meeting of the International Scientific Committee of the Slave Route Project

The Director-General of UNESCO, Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, participated in the closing session of the meeting of the International Scientific Committee of the Slave Route Project.

This 9th meeting of the Committee took place on 17 and 18 February at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. It reviewed the many activities which had taken place in 2007 and 2008 and devoted most of its time to the discussion of a new strategy for the Slave Route Project, to be presented at the Executive Board next April. This Strategy develops new approaches and methodologies to reinforce the Project, extends its geographic scope and proposes the introduction of new themes. The Strategy was endorsed by the Committee.

During the closing session, the newly elected chairman of the Committee, Professor Michael Gomez from the United States of America, presented a comprehensive report of the work of the Committee during its two-day meeting and underlined the very positive results of the discussions. The president of UNESCO’s Executive Board, Ambassador Olabiyi Babalola Joseph Yaï, recalled that this Project was of major interest to Executive Board members, and expressed his satisfaction at the new developments, regarding this session of the Committee as one of re-launch and hope.

In his closing statement, the Director-General began by addressing his gratitude to the new members of the Scientific Committee, the outgoing Bureau and the newly elected Bureau members and its president for their dedication and support. Recalling how important this Project is to UNESCO, the Director-General underlined that “it goes to the heart of the Organization’s mandate of promoting peace, dialogue and understanding through education and historical research”. Turning to the advocacy role of Members of the International Scientific Committee, “you can make a vital contribution to engaging national authorities in the implementation of relevant programmes and activities,” Mr Matsuura said.

“I am pleased that the new Strategy for the Slave Route Project, which I will be submitting to the Board at its next session in April, was positively received, indicated the Director-General. You have wisely underlined the need to better disseminate the significant results achieved so far. I note with satisfaction that this concern is now addressed through the ongoing reconstruction of the website of the Slave Route Project. (…) I also welcome your interest in addressing new trends in historical research, highlighting for example the social and cultural interactions generated by the slave trade and slavery, the ideological, moral or economic roots of slavery, and even strategies to counter contemporary forms of slavery. Finally, your desire to give a greater regional and national focus to the project is very interesting. I believe this regional and national focus will also be critical in helping to better mobilize the vast range of expertise that exists on this subject,” the Director-General added.

In conclusion, Mr Matsuura welcomed the renewed impetus to the Slave Route Project given by the International Scientific Committee and expressed the hope that the Board would accept the new strategy, “in order to support a longer-term involvement in research, advocacy and education for the Slave Route Project.”

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Author(s): Office of the Spokesperson - Source: Flash Info N° 027-2009 -  Publication Date: 20-02-2009

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