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Awareness, Action and Impact: A Forum on Modern Slavery


Following the Feast of Epiphany 2019, the Ecumenical Patriarchate hosted an International Forum on Modern Slavery under the auspices of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. The Forum was held in Istanbul, Turkey, from January 7-8, 2019, and focused on the theme “Awareness, Action and Impact.”

The Forum commenced with an opening address by His All-Holiness, who observed: “This Forum aims to rectify the direction society is heading in, and to find real and concrete means to fight against this unacceptable expression of abuse and evil in our present day and age.” After the official opening, the first panel addressed legal frameworks, at the international, national, and local levels, for addressing the diverse expressions of modern slavery. The second panel discussed current trends in forced migration and human trafficking, emphasizing how migration and human smuggling and trafficking are interstitial to many other dimensions of human slavery. The third panel consisted of practitioners whose grassroots efforts have made positive impacts, including the protection of women and children, as well as the provision of public health services, as remedies to human slavery.

On the morning of January 8th, the Orthodox Christian ministries that were invited to the Forum met for a first-ever inter-Orthodox consultation on modern slavery. Ministry representatives discussed their core activities and key outcomes and identified opportunities for collaboration and synergy among and between Orthodox institutions and organizations. The consultation emphasized the priority of applying Orthodox teachings on freedom and dignity to action and witness, in order to help to eliminate the global scourge of slavery that traps millions of people in lives of suffering, injustice and humiliation.

This was the third Forum on Modern Slavery hosted by the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The first Forum, “Sins Before Our Eyes,” was held in Istanbul, Turkey, in February 2017. The second Forum, “Old Problems in the New World,” was held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in May 2018.