There are more slaves today than were seized from Africa in four centuries of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. In fact, there are more slaves in the world today than at any other point in human history, with an estimated 21 million in bondage across the globe. In an effort to eradicate modern slavery and human trafficking across the world by 2020, Pope Francis and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby have personally given their backing to the newly-formed Global Freedom Network. The Global Freedom Network is an open association and other faith leaders will be invited to join and support this initiative.
In their joint statement, the signatories underscored the need for urgent action:
The physical, economic and sexual exploitation of men, women and children condemns 30 million people to dehumanization and degradation. Every day we let this tragic situation continue is a grievous assault on our common humanity and a shameful affront to the consciences of all peoples.
Any indifference to those suffering exploitation must cease. We call to action all people of faith and their leaders, all governments and people of goodwill, to join the movement against modern slavery and human trafficking and support the Global Freedom Network.
Only by activating, all over the world, the ideals of faith and of shared human values can we marshal the spiritual power, the joint effort and the liberating vision to eradicate modern slavery and human trafficking from our world and for all time. This evil is manmade and can be overcome by faith-inspired human will and human effort.
We salute all those already engaged in this struggle, and fervently hope that this new project will further encourage their commitment to set free the most oppressed of our brothers and sisters.