January 01, 2015

UNESCO Recognizes a Malian ABA ROLI Partner for His Work Fighting Slavery

January 2015

On November 16, 2014, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) awarded Ibrahim Ag Idbaltanat, a prominent ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) partner in Mali, its 2014 Madanjeet Singh Prize for the Promotion of Tolerance and Non-Violence.

Ag Idbaltanat, a human rights activist and executive director of the leading Malian anti-slavery organization, Temedt, was honoured for his efforts to combat descent-based slavery in Northern Mali.

Ag Idbaltanat, a human rights activist and executive director of the leading Malian anti-slavery organization, Temedt, was honoured for his efforts to combat descent-based slavery in Northern Mali. According to the UNESCO website, Ag Idbaltanat was recognized for “his dedication and outstanding commitment to dialogue and non-violence as a means of resolving conflicts in society and to the cause of the struggle against social inequalities.” Ag Idbaltanat, who expressed his “joy and pride” in accepting the award, said that the kind of slavery that was practiced around the world in the 12th century continues to exist in Mali today. “It is always possible to resolve conflicts without violence,” said Ag Idbaltanat. “No situation can justify the recourse to violence.”

Maria Koulouris, director of ABA ROLI’s Africa Division, said, “The work of Ag Idbaltanat and Temedt has shed light on the existence of slavery in Mali: a reality that many are either not aware of, or choose to ignore.”

Ag Idbaltanat said that economic and social barriers prevent slaves from leaving their masters to lead independent lives. ABA ROLI has partnered with Temedt since 2010 to provide legal and socio-economic support to victims of slavery and to produce anti-slavery public awareness campaigns in northern Mali. ABA ROLI also supports Temedt’s non-violent efforts to free slaves and to provide those who escape slavery with opportunities to build healthy, productive lives. ABA ROLI has so far provided in-kind assistance or loans to 98 former slaves.

The Madnjeet Singh Prize, which is awarded every two years, was established in 1995 and rewards significant activities in the scientific, artistic, cultural or communication fields aimed at the promotion of a spirit of tolerance and non-violence. Ag Idbaltanat won the 2014 prize along with a Chilean human rights activist.

To learn more about our work in Mali, contact the ABA Rule of Law Initiative atrol@americanbar.org.