John Oldfield, director of the University’s Wilberforce Institute recently had the honour of presenting former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan with the Wilberforce Medallion on behalf of the city of Hull.
The medal is given to those who have made an outstanding contribution to human rights and democracy.
Mr Annan was in Hull to deliver a powerful speech as part of the Freedom Festival, which took place earlier this month.
Mr Annan, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001, called for modern day slavery to be tackled as determinedly as Wilberforce had done two centuries ago. He said; “We should take inspiration from the legacy of Wilberforce and the abolitionists who proved that when individuals take personal responsibility and work together, they can transform the world."
In a speech entitled Freedom in the 21st Century, Mr Annan focused on present day threats to the fundamental human right of freedom. In a powerful address he acknowledged the historical dedication of William Wilberforce in ending the hateful slave trade but recognised that the commercialisation of human life still continues in many forms today.
Speaking to the sold out event, Mr Annan told the audience that an estimated 21m people globally are victims of forced labour, many more are the victims of traffickers, hundreds of thousands of children suffer the plight of harsh labour or are forced to fight as soldiers.
The medallion was presented to Mr Annan for the work of his Kofi Annan Foundation, which seeks to mobilise political will to overcome threats to peace, development and human rights.