Organisation des Nations Unies pour l'éducation, la science et la culture

Director-General chairs meeting of Task Force on UNESCO Activities relating to the Study of the Slave Trade and its implications

On 15 April 2009, the Director-General of UNESCO, Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, chaired a meeting of the Intersectoral Task Force on UNESCO Activities relating to the Study of the Slave Trade and its Implications, as part of his on-going efforts to revitalize the Slave Route project.

In his opening remarks, Mr Matsuura underscored the need for a dynamic intersectoral approach “to a project as important as this one on the Slave Route” and called upon all sectors to intensify their efforts so that the Project could achieve its objectives and meet the expectations of Member States, most recently set out in decision 180EX/14 of the Executive Board. To this end, the Director-General had taken steps to strengthen the Unit charged with managing the project through a transfer of fixed duration of a P3 postholder from the field. In addition, a Young Professional post was currently under recruitment.

Continuing, the Director-General observed that while the project had achieved much since its launch at Ouidah, Benin, in 1994, especially in terms of breaking the silence about the slave trade and slavery, this needed to be consolidated. Mr Matsuura argued that it would be important to examine hitherto insufficiently explored aspects such as the psychological consequences of slavery on contemporary societies; the struggle against racism and discrimination; and the countless influences of this enforced dialogue on the contemporary cultures of Europe, the Americas and the Caribbean including the tangible and intangible cultural heritage, the arts, religion and technology. For example, there may be a case for countries to develop serial nominations to the World Heritage List that not only recognised individual sites of memory but also demonstrated the interactions generated by the tragic trade. It would also be necessary to expand the geographical regions covered to include the Arab – Muslim World; Asia and the Pacific and Andean America.

The Director-General called on the Task Force to identify specific and practical actions – including fundraising opportunities – within and between sectors to implement the long term strategy developed in response to the orientations of the Executive Board, the restructured International Scientific Committee on the Slave Route Project, project partners and the 2005 external evaluation of the project, noting that the strategy would be examined by the Board during the upcoming 181st session (document 181 EX/13 Part II*).

Under Mr Matsuura’s guidance, the Task Force examined existing levels of cooperation within the Secretariat and discussed the scope for strengthening it across the Organization, agreeing to reconvene after the Executive Board’s Spring 2009 session to further develop their work plans in light of the Board’s discussions.

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Auteur(s): La Porte-parole - Source: Flash Info N° 064-2009 -  Date de publication: 17-04-2009

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