The United Nations General Assembly begins a three-day summit Friday in New York to shape the world’s agenda for international development over the next 15 years. The elimination of slavery is one of the U.N.’s key objectives.
“The sustainable development goals (SDGs) are a new, universal set of goals, targets and indicators that U.N. member states will be expected to use to frame their agendas and political policies,” explains The Guardian. “The SDGs follow and expand on the millennium development goals (MDGs), which were agreed by governments in 2001 and are due to expire at the end of this year.”
World leaders at the Sustainable Development Summit will formally adopt 17 goals that focus on people, prosperity and the planet – with 169 targets listed to accomplish these goals. Goal 8 involves economic well being: “Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all.” One of this goal’s targets (Target 8.7) is an end to slavery: “Take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labor, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labor, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labor in all its forms.”
“We applaud the U.N. General Assembly for elevating the moral imperative to end slavery to a mandatory goal by a date certain,” says Free the Slaves Executive Director Maurice Middleberg. “Now the focus must be on making good on the promise. We therefore urge the secretary-general to mobilize the concerned U.N. agencies in a concerted effort to attack slavery and human trafficking. We also strongly recommend that the U.N., in consultation with civil society, quickly establish metrics and benchmarks against which the progress of governments can be measured.”
Ending modern-day slavery has been on the global agenda since it was included in The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. Since then, several U.N. treaties, protocols and conventions have shaped the international response to human trafficking (read about these developments in the Slavery in History section of the Free the Slaves website). However, eradicating slavery was not included in the narrower set of international development goals that the U.N. approved in 2001. This week’s summit to create a new set of goals restores anti-slavery work as a top priority.