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Doing Justice to the Dead

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Speakers: Lincoln Crawford OBE; David Ould, Dr John Torpey
Chair: Professor Conor Gearty, Centre for the Study of Human Rights
November 2004

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Abstract

UNESCO has declared 2004 the "International Year to Commemorate the Struggle Against Slavery and its Abolition". The shadow cast by slavery is a long one, with its impact still evident in many parts of the world and across many cultures. But what can be done to remedy past wrongs of such enormity? Is financial recompense essential, and if so, by whom and to whom should it be paid? Are there not also other (perhaps better) ways of recognising the immorality of past generations, such as memorial and anniversary events? How can we confidently identify today's victims of the atrocities of past years? At a time of what is effectively slavery in the contemporary world, should we even waste time doing so? Would not a better commemoration of the dead victims be to work towards justice for those in an equivalent plight today? By what criteria can individuals or groups be held responsible, even metaphorically, for actions or omissions of previous generations?

Barrister Lincoln Crawford OBE is a member of the Race Equality Advisory Panel. David Ould is deputy director of Anti-Slavery International. Dr John Torpey is associate professor of sociology at the University of British Columbia

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