Franciscans persuade UN to appoint anti-slavery rapporteur

 The Human Rights Council of the UN has decided to appoint, for a period of three years, a Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, following a five year campaign by the Franciscans. In 2002, Fr Joseph Legonou OFM was the first Franciscan to publicly speak at the United Nations on contemporary forms of slavery occurring in West Africa, especially in Togo. More than 50 countries joined the United Kingdom in co-sponsoring this resolution, which was adopted by consensus. The text acknowledges that contemporary forms of slavery are a global issue which affects all continents and many countries. The resolution expresses its deep concern at the increase of the number of people in slavery, at present estimated as a minimum of 12 million. The new Special Rapporteur will report to the Human Rights Council on all contemporary forms of slavery, while promoting the application of relevant international norms on slavery. He/she will also be entitled to request, receive and exchange information on contemporary forms of slavery, and to respond to reliable information on human rights violations by recommending measures applicable at the national, regional and international levels. The appointment is a triumph for Franciscans International, an NGO with special consultative status at the United Nations, who, for 25 years, have been advocating on behalf of the world's poor and vulnerable. "Fr Joseph's intervention, followed by those of many other Franciscans who participated in our training sessions on contemporary forms of slavery, along with Franciscans International's advocacy efforts have brought their fruits: from now on contemporary forms of slavery will receive the attention, visibility and prominence in the UN human rights system that they deserve. What was a critical gap has today been adequately fulfilled" said Alessandra Aula, FI's International Advocacy Coordinator. Source: FI

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