Old Problems in the New World: A Forum on Modern Slavery

Under the auspices of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, a second forum on modern slavery convened in Buenos Aires, Argentina, from May 5-8, 2018. This forum, entitled Old Problems in the New World, was co-sponsored by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Buenos Aires and South America, and the Patriarch Athenagoras Orthodox Institute (Berkeley, California). The purpose of this gathering was to bring together distinguished practitioners, policymakers, theologians, and scholars from within Latin America and other parts of the world to explore the myriad dimensions of the scourge of modern slavery. The forum was held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Argentina, with welcoming remarks offered by diplomats and dignitaries, and opened with video messages from His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, His Holiness Pope Francis, and His Grace Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury.

The forum was structured around three panels, beginning with the theological foundations for understanding the Christian responsibility to eliminate all forms of enslavement of the human person. The second panel identified the distinct and interconnected manifestations of modern slavery, including human trafficking and smuggling, sexual exploitation, human supply chains, and the public health impacts of those practices. The final panel of faith-based organizations presented their programs and initiatives aimed at responding to the needs of victims and those vulnerable to modern slavery.

The forum produced A Common Declaration of Unity Against the Sin of Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery. Signatories to the Common Declaration pledged to initiate and undertake every effort to heal the brokenness caused by modern slavery and to restore to each and every person their God-given dignity.