Archive for the 'Slavery' Category

Mauritania to UN Watch: No slavery in the country

This morning, Mauritania’s delegation to the UN Human Rights Council responded to UN Watch and rejected the wide-spread and well-documented persistence of slavery in the country. Below is the speech as well as the country’s response. Mauritania currently serves a 3-year term at the HRC and is the Council’s Vice-President.

UN Watch Statement
UN Human Rights Council, 24th Session
Agenda Item 3: Promotion and protection of all human rights

Delivered by Karoline Ronning
16 September 2013

Thank you, Mr. President.

Article 4 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides that no one shall be held in slavery, and that slavery is prohibited in all its forms.

Yet an estimated 27 million people worldwide still live in conditions of forced bondage, and every year at least 700,000 people are trafficked across borders and into slavery.

In the world today, nowhere is slavery so systematically practiced as in Mauritania, a country that is an elected member of this Human Rights Council.

As unfathomable as it may sound, some 20 percent of Mauritanians, about 600,000 people belonging to the darker-skinned black African minority, live as slaves.

According to Abidine Merzough, a man born in Mauritania as a slave, and who is now the European coordinator of an anti-slavery NGO, Sharia is used to justify this system.

Continue reading ‘Mauritania to UN Watch: No slavery in the country’

UN marks International Remembrance Day of Victims of Slavery, whilst Mauritania continues to sit on the body’s Human Rights Council.

Today, activities kick-off at the UN in the lead up to International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, marked on March 25th. Events will include an exhibition, a film screening, a book signing, a culinary evening and a concert, as well as briefings and a “Solemn Commemorative Meeting.”

Yet, whilst the UN marks this day in the most respectable fashion, it does not show this same respect for the real victims of slavery, who continue to suffer whilst the international community ignores their cries. Continue reading ‘UN marks International Remembrance Day of Victims of Slavery, whilst Mauritania continues to sit on the body’s Human Rights Council.’

Why Durban II ignores the Declaration on Arab-Led Slavery of Africans

In 2003, in Johannesburg, South Africa, a conference on Arab-led slavery of Africans issued a declaration accusing Arab countries of:

  • “ethnocide of African people through forced cultural Arabization”;
  • “historical and continuing crimes committed against African boys subjected to forced castration (of which the survival rate has been one in ten), to create a eunuch class”;
  • “historical and continued taking into slavery of young girls to serve as slaves to their masters with no right to marriage unless prescribed by their masters”;
  • “genocide against Africans, particularly in the Sudan”;
  • “ethnocide of African people through forced cultural Arabization processes”; and
  • “incalculable damage on Africans and African society”, for which ”apologies and reparations are due to Africans.”

It’s quite a damning indictment, on an issue many in U.N. circles would prefer to ignore.

With this in mind, the latest draft of the Durban II declaration includes a European-sponsored proposal on the “need to similarly address the trans-Saharan slave trade and the slave trade in the Indian Ocean.”

However, the proposal is bracketed — which means it’s under dispute. Why would anyone challenge the historical fact of the Arab trade in African slaves?

Because the Durban conference of 2001, contrary to its stated purpose, was never organized to objectively examining racism around the world. Its true purpose was someting else entirely. The exercise was initiated by African regimes to raise blame Western racism as the original and remaining cause of Africa’s ills. In other words, Robert Mugabe’s abuses are not the cause of Zimbabweans’ misery, but rather imperialist Britain or capitalist America.

Not that there weren’t several legitimate historical grievances included in the mix, but the point is that the purpose was always to point the finger at a very specific target, rather than to objectively address victims of discrimination and intolerance in all continents and countries. Far from it. 

With anti-Western rulers exercising a controlling majority of the U.N., any other narrative on this issue — which might diminish or add nuance to the grievance premised on exclusively Western culpability — is excluded.

On this particular issue — as on others — Durban II is and will be the same. The bracketed provisions in the draft text hinting to the Islamic slave trade were proposed by European states, but will never survive the negotiation process. They’ll be nixed under forceful objections from Third World states, especially the mighty Arab and Islamic blocs.

What is worse, the issue of the Arab slave trade is virtually ignored by most NGOs involved in the Durban process. Such activists generally hold a strongly Tier Mondiste worldview, which similarly explains poverty and other world problems by pointing to the West as a rapacious exploiter of the Third World — essentially the modern leftist’s adapation of the imperialist notion of the noble savage. This worldview is threatened by any narrative involving a perpetrator that is non-Western.

Will any expert on Arab slavery be seen in Geneva during the week of the Durban II conference, to put a spotlight on this buried history? Don’t bet on it.