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This content is taken from the The University of Nottingham's online course, Ending Slavery: Strategies for Contemporary Global Abolition. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 7 seconds We stand at a point in human history where our economies, laws, governments, understanding, religious and moral beliefs are all aligned in a constellation that can bring slavery to an end. And that will be a really huge moment. Ending slavery will be humanity’s watershed, separating the millennia of a great lie, that some humans are subhuman, from the time of truth, that we are one people. Of course, there is no magic bullet that will stop slavery in every country or village. Ending slavery in America and the UK it will be different to ending slavery in India, Ghana, or Thailand.

Skip to 0 minutes and 45 seconds It is integrated into the local as well as the global economy, and nearly every country will need to build a unique set of responses. Japan, for example, has the resources it needs to eradicate slavery very quickly inside the country, but it has an extreme shortage of political will. Poor countries may have the best will in the world, but not enough money to take on the slaveholders. But in America, the UK, Ghana, India, Pakistan, Thailand, Italy, Brazil, Japan, and a host of other countries, slaves are being liberated. And each time a slave comes to freedom, we learn another lesson about how slavery can end.

Skip to 1 minute and 29 seconds Responding to the social, cultural, political, economic, and sometimes religious packaging that is wrapped around slavery in different countries, we can adapt general patterns to each unique setting. And if there was ever a tipping point where we might end slavery, it is now. Many of the great obstacles faced by abolitionists of the past have either been torn down or blown away. So firstly, the moral argument is already won. Every country condemns slavery. No powerful religious group argues that slavery is desirable or acceptable. The second advantage for today’s abolitionists is that there is no economic argument to be won. The monetary value of slavery in the world economy is really small.

Skip to 2 minutes and 11 seconds Slave-based revenues flow to support national economies or transnational industries, but your small scale criminal networks. So the end of slavery threatens no country’s livelihood. The cost of ending slavery is really just a fraction of the amount that freed slaves will put back into economies. The third great advantage is that there is no legal argument to be won. For the most part, the necessary national and international laws are already on the books. Around the world, some of these laws need updating and expanding. Some need their penalties increasing. But nowhere on Earth is slavery legal. Bringing an end to slavery requires the political will to enforce laws, but not campaigns to make new ones.

Skip to 2 minutes and 56 seconds So in that sense, our struggle is easier than the one facing the 19th century abolitionists. We don’t have to break laws to help enslaved people, as the early abolitionists did. Yes, the laws against slavery in every country, the lack of any large vested economic interest, and a growing acceptance of human rights means slavery can be ended when the public and governments make it a priority. And we might also take heart from the fact that while 46 million is the largest number of individuals ever enslaved at one time, it is the smallest ever a proportion of the global population to be in slavery.

Skip to 3 minutes and 34 seconds This course over the last four weeks has brainstormed a blueprint for achieving this, at the level of international organizations, national governments, corporations, and communities. And from all we’ve discussed, it seems like the major obstacles to beginning that process of eradication are lack of awareness and lack of resources. So significant portions of the global population don’t know or maybe don’t want to believe that slavery still exists, and that includes large numbers of policymakers and law enforcement officials who should be at the front line of response. To combat slavery, we need firstly to better understand its scope. This means a commitment to data collection and analysis. Information about slavery has been sealed off behind bureaucratic walls.

Skip to 4 minutes and 23 seconds It is time for those walls to come tumbling down. Then, as we gather data and test strategies, we need to form networks capable of collective thinking focused on ending slavery. Consensus has to be reached on key elements of analysis and orientation. Anti-slavery groups need to join together and cooperate, forming a wider movement with a shared identity. Successful strategies should be proactively offered to the world as an open source program, and grassroots movements need to identify organizations and entities that are capable of influencing the wider political and economic determinants of slavery. When slavery is linked to exports and products, they need to join with the industries.

Skip to 5 minutes and 10 seconds When international pressure could help tip the government policies, they need to work with the UN. And governments need to quantify results. In the US, for example, the government has been handing out money to anti-slavery programs since the passage of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, but with little accountability. One sure way to determine the success or failure of the current war on slavery is through an independent structured program of monitoring and regular evaluation. And beyond knowledge gathering and networking across agencies and groups and monitoring and evaluation, we do need a greater awareness among the general public. This would mean increased pressure on politicians to adequately fund anti-slavery efforts, and to support a series of steps towards ending slavery.

Skip to 6 minutes and 0 seconds Some of these steps that we’ve learned about are small. For example, the next Peace Corps appropriation bill in the US Congress could include a line announcing that in the next intake, there will be a call for volunteers who want to work on the liberation and the reintegration of enslaved people. And other steps are larger. So wealth Health Organization strategies need to be refocused through a slavery lens, as do government policies on debt relief, law enforcement, military cooperation with other countries. Foreign aid should be thought through with an anti-slavery focus, some of it targeting the underlying economic desperation that engenders slavery. Trade policies should reflect the idea that slave made goods are taboo on the world market.

Skip to 6 minutes and 43 seconds Trade financing can be linked to demonstrable efforts to remove slavery from local as well as international markets. As we begin the long process of turning the giant supertankers of government and building the international alliance against slavery, ending slavery means acting globally and locally. Rich countries should devote the necessary diplomatic and financial resources to make the end of slavery a global priority. Some of these resources should be directed to the global south to support the enforcement of local laws against slavery and the establishment of sustainable lives for ex-slaves. In fact, from local police to the UN, from the individual consumer to the CEO of corporations, all have a role to play in ending slavery.

Skip to 7 minutes and 32 seconds Ending slavery means attacking it at all levels. There’s also the level of the individual, so we can all help end slavery. For example, what actions might you as a learner, as a contributor to this course, what actions do you want to take next? It’s a good question, because while ending slavery means acting locally and globally, it also means individual action, too. Firstly, we can refuse to retire on the backs of slaves. If you have a retirement fund, tell your investment manager that you do not want to profit from slavery. Ask that they not invest your money in companies that refuse to take responsibility for the slavery in their supply chains.

Skip to 8 minutes and 14 seconds Secondly, you can write to your member of parliament or congressperson. Politicians tend not to respond to an issue without pressure from their constituency. Write or email your government representatives. Don’t assume they are familiar with the issue. Tell them what you think they should know, and encourage them to act. You might also write an Op Ed column or a letter to a newspaper or a magazine, or start a blog. Thirdly, we can all watch for signs of slavery in our communities. And one of the readings in this step lays out some of the signs to look for. Slavery often comes to light because a member of the public sees something odd and speaks up.

Skip to 8 minutes and 55 seconds We’ve also seen people getting creative, designing their own programs. For example, a group of women in Florida are concentrating their efforts on feminine products. So they wrote letters to the makers of Tampax, encouraging them to put an emergency hotline number and message on their packaging to let women know in different languages that if they’re being held against their will, there is this 24 hour number that they can call. And the Florida women say that they chose feminine products because women of all backgrounds and languages use them, and they use them in private. They use them away from the eyes of their captors.

Skip to 9 minutes and 29 seconds Another example is a teacher who helped a group of 50 schoolchildren in Kentucky to fund the rescue and the rehabilitation of dozens of enslaved children abroad. And as part of their service project, these students learned how to design a website, how to create brochures and slide shows about slavery, to educate other students and business leaders and faith congregations. They donated babysitting money and allowances. They baked cookies. They sold lemonade. And in six weeks, they raised over $28,000. Yes, everyone has skills to offer the anti-slavery movement. If you’re skilled at organization, then you might consider bringing the idea of a slave-free city to your community.

Skip to 10 minutes and 11 seconds The process of slave-proofing a city may begin when someone raises the idea in a school or in a letter to the local newspaper, or in his or her place of worship. When there is even a small group of people committed to ending slavery, this group can find out which existing service providers are already equipped to help. They can learn about their work and how they can best be supportive. Local foundations can contribute leadership, gifts, and faith communities and clubs can hold fundraisers for the local self-service provision groups. This slavery-free city process is actually really interesting.

Skip to 10 minutes and 47 seconds We’ve seen that public awareness raising can include articles in the local newspaper, reports on TV and radio, a proclamation by the city government, special assemblies in schools. And a committee, including members of the city council, local business leaders, can examine whether goods sold in the community have a high likelihood of being slave made. And then together with existing service providers, the group can really communicate its vision of a slave-free city with the city council, with the mayor, the police chief, religious leaders, teachers, the editors and manages of local newspapers, radio, TV stations. Every one of these community leaders and others will need an explanation of the plan to rid that community of slavery.

Skip to 11 minutes and 33 seconds Or since many victims come from abroad and enter the country with little or no capacity to speak the English, language is a major issue. The ability to speak, read, and write English is important for survivors seeking to make a life in the UK or in the US. If you have a language skill, talk to your local service provider about acting as an interpreter for intake interviews with the staff attorney or legal director. Or you can help anti-slavery and anti-trafficking organizations translate materials, so that they can reach a greater number of people in slavery. If you can teach, consider teaching English as a second language to ex-slaves. The service provider may be able to set up classes or tutorials for you.

Skip to 12 minutes and 17 seconds So as we reached the end of this course, we are asking you, our learners, to come up with your own ideas. We need a new blueprint for freedom, at all levels. By learning about slavery and about anti-slavery strategies, you are part of that blueprint. Awareness of contemporary slavery is growing every day, but there are still plenty of people who think slavery doesn’t exist who have no idea of the extent of their own involvement in global slavery. You’ve cracked the awareness problem in your own life by taking this course. Drawing on all you have learned and discussed, you could now make your own pledge for taking anti-slavery action. Perhaps the next gift you buy will be slavery-free.

Skip to 13 minutes and 0 seconds Perhaps you will ask your local police force if they have received training on how to recognize slavery in your city. If there are neighborhood watch groups in your community, perhaps you will make sure that slavery is included on their agendas. Or you can come up with your own pledge. In the next step, the final step of this course, we are asking you to post your pledge in the comments section, and we’re going to be gathering all your pledges, all your ideas on behalf of leading anti-slavery organizations. Slavery is on the edge of its own extinction. And by ending it, we can achieve in our lifetime something that makes landing on the moon seem like a minor historical footnote.

Skip to 13 minutes and 40 seconds We hope you will help us shape the next generation of anti-slavery action.

A Slavery-Free World

We can bring slavery to an end within a generation.

We stand at a moment in human history where our economies, laws, governments, understanding, religious and moral beliefs, are all aligned in a constellation that can bring slavery to an end. Ending slavery will be humanity’s watershed, separating the millennia of a great lie, that some humans are sub-human, from the time of truth, that we are one people.

In this final film, Kevin Bales and Zoe Trodd discuss what any individual can do to help achieve this end of slavery, and what actions we might want to take next.

After watching the film, share in the comments any ideas that seem particularly relevant to your own life, and any new antislavery ideas of your own.

Then in this course’s final step, we will be asking you to turn these ideas into a new antislavery pledge.

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This video is from the free online course:

Ending Slavery: Strategies for Contemporary Global Abolition

The University of Nottingham