In view of the ignorance or concealment of major historical events that constitutes an obstacle to mutual understanding, reconciliation and cooperation amongst peoples, UNESCO embarked on a project that aims at breaking the silence surrounding the slave trade and slavery. For nearly 25 years, a rich diversity of projects and publications have been developed and brought forward under the leadership of UNESCO. Here are some of such endeavours:

The Slave Route Project

Launched in 1994 in Ouidah, Benin, on a proposal from Haiti, “the Slave Route project: Resistance, Liberty, Heritage” pursues the following objectives:

  • Contribute to a better understanding of the causes, forms of operation, stakes and consequences of slavery in the world (Africa, Europe, the Americas, the Caribbean, the Indian Ocean, Middle East and Asia);
  • Highlight the global transformations and cultural interactions that have resulted from this history;
  • Contribute to a culture of peace by promoting reflection on cultural pluralism, intercultural dialogue and the construction of new identities and citizenships.

International Scientific Committee of the Slave Route Project: Resistance, Liberty, Heritage

The International Scientific Committee  of the Slave Route Project was established in 1994 by UNESCO. Its role is to advise UNESCO on the implementation of the project with regard to the development of educational materials and programmes, the advancement of research into various aspects of the slave trade and slavery, as well as the formation of new partnerships to promote the project’s objectives. Most recent meetings of the committee include:

The Legacy of Transatlantic Slave Trade

The transatlantic slave trade is unique within the universal history of slavery for three main reasons: (1) its duration – approximately four centuries; (2) those vicitimized: black African men, women and children; (3) the intellectual legitimization attempted on its behalf – the development of an anti-black ideology and its legal organization, the notorious Code Noir. In fact, the transatlantic slave trade is often regarded as the first system of globalization. Read more here.

National Museum of African American History and Culture

“The African American experience is the lens through which we understand what it is to be an American.”, says Lonnie Bunch III, the Founding Director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. The museum is the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, history, and culture.

Legacies of Slavery: A Resource Book for Managers of Sites and Itineraries of Memory

This Guide is the result of a collective effort that brought together historians, specialists of memory routes and managers of historical sites. It was prepared within the Social and Human Sciences Sector, in the Policies and Programmes Division, the History and memory for Dialogue Section, under the supervision of Ali Moussa Iye, Chief of Section and coordinator of the Slave Route Project: Resistance, Liberty, Heritage.

Healing the Wounds of History

Healing the Wounds of History (HWH) programmes were essentially different experiential journeys through which people become more aware that unresolved past wounds can continue to drive us to violence. These are often well-established innovative approaches to healing, including the use of drama, storytelling, constellation work, deep spiritual reflection, expressive arts and so forth. The HWH programmes in Lebanon 2011-2017 were co-sponsored by Guerrand-Hermès Foundation for Peace, and the training workshops were provided by Centre for Lebanese Studies.

Articles on Mass Trauma and Collective Healing

To be better informed about the complexity of mass trauma such as trans-Atlantic slave trade and slavery, and challenges of addressing its legacy, we have commissioned a number of relevant articles on these topics.