Caricom countries urged to mark 200th anniversary of abolition of slave trade
Stabroek News
March 21, 2007

Related Links: Articles on heritage
Letters Menu Archival Menu

Secretary-General of Caricom Edwin Carrington is urging all member states to implement activities to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Proclamation of the Abolition of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.

A press release from Caricom said Carrington is reminding all member states this is the 200th year since the Proclamation of the Abolition of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade and is urging them to commemorate the event.

According to the release, the secretary-general is also appealing to the mass media, the church, government ministries, agencies and schools in all member states to join in a synchronized period of one minute of silence on March 25 at noon, Eastern Caribbean Time, in honour of those who died in the Middle Passage and in resistance to slavery.

The release said this is in keeping with the decision of the 18th Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government, held in St Vincent and the Grenadines February 12-14, to commemorate the historic event with year-long national and regional activities and in particular the observance of the synchronized period of silence.

The release noted that Carrington's appeal also comes against the background of the passage of a resolution co-sponsored by Caricom at the 61st Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) last year, designating March 25, 2007 as the International Day for the Commemoration of the 200th Anniversary of the Abolition of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. The resolution, which was supported by an overwhelming majority of member states of the UN, urged them "to develop programmes to educate and inculcate future generations on the lessons, history and consequences of slavery and the slave trade" and requested the secretary-general of the UN to establish an outreach programme to mark the event, including the holding of a special session of the UNGA on March 25.

It acknowledged, among other things, that the slave trade and the legacy of slavery are at the heart of situations of profound social and economic inequity, hatred, bigotry, racism and prejudice, which continue to affect people of African descent and recalled the reference in the Durban Declaration on the importance of "provision of effective remedies, recourse, redress and compensatory and other measures at the national, regional and international levels", aimed at countering the continued impact of slavery and the slave trade.

The 19th Meeting of the Community Council of Ministers of Caricom held here on January 19, endorsed the proposal that member states focus on the development of educational material on the slave trade under the theme 'Caricom Reflects' and agreed that the programmes implemented by member states would "include activities highlighting the achievements of the sons and daughters of slavery."

The council also agreed to recommend to the Assembly of Caribbean Community Parliamentarians (ACCP) that it should meet under the theme of the bicentenary of the Abolition of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and also link recognition of the 200th Anniversary of the Haitian Parliament to that Parliamentary Session.

The release noted that several member states such as Jamaica and St Vincent and the Grenadines have developed and started implementation of a comprehensive year-long programme, which includes public lectures, logo competitions, public education, panel discussions, cultural rallies, concerts, exhibitions, and ritual ceremonies.

The secretary-general acknowledged and commended the efforts of those states that have started to implement national programmes and urged others, which have not yet initiated plans, to follow suit, the release said.