The United Nations launched an international design competition Friday for a permanent memorial to victims of slavery and the trans-Atlantic slave trade.
The memorial will be constructed at U.N. headquarters in New York and the competition is open to all artists. The theme of the project is "Acknowledging the Tragedy, Considering the Legacy; Lest We Forget," and designs must be submitted by Dec. 19.
The U.N. General Assembly has endorsed the memorial, and the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, a Permanent Memorial Committee, and Caribbean and African nations are overseeing the project.
"The issue of slavery and the trans-Atlantic slave trade stands out still today as a crime against humanity, one of the first manifestations of man's inhumanity to man," Jamaica's U.N. Ambassador Raymond Wolfe, chair of the Memorial Committee, told a news conference launching the competition.
The aim, he said, is to have "one of the worst chapters in human history ... finally being acknowledged and honored here at the United Nations."
Wolfe expressed hope that the monument would be a place for reflection, education "and sober thought."
He added: "And that monument must be a symbol, a strong symbol, to say never again."
Wolfe appealed to governments and corporate donors to contribute generously to reach the goal of $4.5 million to construct the memorial. UNESCO indicated that about $1 million has been contributed so far.
UNESCO is administering the competition's initial phase, reviewing qualifications of entrants and selecting 16 semi-finalists. These will be sent to the Permanent Memorial Committee at U.N. headquarters, where an international panel of judges will select seven finalists and the winning design. The artist who designed it will receive a $50,000 award.
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