Published on August 26th, 2021 | by CCAT0
International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition
By Sal Fazal
The International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition was first observed in 1998 after a resolution was passed by UNESCO in 1997 (29 C/Resolutions + CORR, p.66). This day gives people an opportunity to take part in “activities designed to further the values of tolerance, respect, acceptance and appreciation of the equal dignity of human beings and to promote intercultural dialogue” and “to honour the memory of millions of men, women and children who were the victims of slavery, the slave trade and the resultant genocide” (ibid. p. 67).
The reason that this day is observed on 23rd August is because it was on the night of 22-23 August 1791, in San Domingo (Present Haiti and the Dominican Republic), an uprising began. This uprising led to the Haitian Revolution in which slaves revolted against French colonial rule and established an independent state of Haiti.
The Haitian Revolution played a crucial role in the abolition of transatlantic slave trade by conveying a universal demand for freedom of everyone, irrespective of their origin & religion. The transatlantic slave trade brought slaves to America from Africa and lasted well into the 19th century. In the UK, the slave trade was banned in 1807 and slavery was abolished in 1833 after ‘Abolition of Slavery Act’ was passed. To see timeline of abolition of the slave trade around the world, please click here.
UNESCO’s aim behind observing the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition on anniversary of the uprising is to highlight the importance of learning valuable lessons from history so that we are better equipped in our ongoing fight against all forms of oppression, slavery, human trafficking and racism. It is important that we must raise awareness of the struggle that led to the abolition of slavery as this would eventually lead to building just and unbiased societies.
In order to focus on the importance of the role of a global movement to end injustices, this year’s UN theme for the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition is “Ending Slavery’s Legacy of Racism: A Global Imperative for Justice”. To commemorate this day, UN has organised number of events to be held this year. For further details, please visit the UN website It is crucial that we should learn from history of the transatlantic slave trade and slavery and its impact on the modern world. It is crucial to educate people as it would ultimately help us in developing a more humane and effective approach in combating racism, racial discrimination, modern day slavery and human trafficking.
To commemorate this day, CCAT encourages everyone to take an active part in the campaign against modern day slavery and human trafficking by participating in events held locally to raise awareness of this issue. Individuals can learn more about the slave trade and UNESCO’s slave trade project. The International Slavery Museum also provides a wealth of information by sharing interesting ‘stories’ online. We encourage our readers to join the conversation and use the hashtags #InternationalDayForTheRemembranceOfTheSlaveTradeAndItsAbolition and #DayForTheRemembranceOfTheSlaveTrade on social media.
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). General Conference, 29th, 1997 . Records of the General Conference, 29th Session, Paris 21 October to 12 November 1997 v.1: Resolutions. 29 C/Resolutions + CORR. Retrieved August 21, 2021 from https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000110220.page=72
Reuters Staff (March 22, 2007). CHRONOLOGY-Who banned slavery when?. Retrieved August 21, 2021 from https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-slavery-idUSL1561464920070322.
Black History Month Editorial Team (August 22, 2020). International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition. Retrieved August 21, 2021 from https://www.blackhistorymonth.org.uk/article/section/history-of-slavery/international-day-for-the-remembrance-of-the-slave-trade-and-its-abolition/
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Bulletin on International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition. Retrieved August 21, 2021 from https://en.unesco.org/commemorations/slavetraderemembranceday