According to figures released by UNICEF and ILO in June, almost 80 million children aged 5 to 17 years are subjected to hazardous work which is a contemporary form of slavery, says the UN. The fact that we still need an International Day for the Abolition of Slavery – observed on 2 December each year - speaks to the scale and apparent intractability of this crime.
UCT’s Dean of Law, Professor Danwood Chirwa, chairs the Board of the UN Voluntary Trust Fund on Contemporary Forms of Slavery which met last week (22 – 26 November 2021) in Geneva. Professor Chirwa has been a member of the UNVTFCFS since 2017.
This body was established by the UN General Assembly 30 years ago in 1991 (resolution 46/122), and is managed by the United Nations Secretary-General through the OHCHR. The Board of Trustees comprises five independent experts who are appointed by the Secretary-General - from amongst experts with expertise in the field of human rights, especially contemporary forms of slavery. As representatives of each geographic region, members are appointed by the Secretary-General for a three year period, renewable once.
The Fund’s mandate is to support victims of contemporary forms of slavery, which is achieved by channelling voluntary contributions to civil society organisations that provide legal, social, and psychological & medical services, as well as those providing humanitarian assistance and vocational training.
Each year the OHCHR issues a statement on the abolition of contemporary forms of slavery. The 2021 statement is now available.