International Day for the Remembrance of Slave Trade and its Abolition

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : May 19, 2022, 5:11

UNESCO has marked 23rd August every year as the International Day for the Remembrance of Slave Trade and its Abolition to memorialize the tragedy and the victims of the slave trade. The day also encourages critical debates about exploitation practices such as slavery and racism.

International Day for the Remembrance of Slave Trade and its Abolition History

On the night of 22-23 August 1791, an uprising took place in Santo Domingo, modern-day Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The revolt was against the transatlantic slave trade that transported people from Africa to work in inhuman conditions in colonial settlements in Haiti, the Caribbean, and other parts of the world.

The fight of 22-23 August 1791 inspired the Haitian Revolution against the colonial empires of Western Europe. It also played a significant role in eliminating the transatlantic slave trade.

To remember the tragedy of the slave trade and initiate a critical dialogue about exploitation and slavery, the United Nations (UN) Executive Board adopted Resolution 29 C/40 at its 29th session to commemorate 23rd August as the International Day for the Remembrance of Slave Trade and its Abolition.

International Day for the Remembrance of Slave Trade and its Abolition Significance

UNESCO launched the International Day for the Remembrance of Slave Trade and its Abolition to break the silence and revive the memory of slavery and the tragedy of the transatlantic slave trade in people's minds.

As such, the day is marked to -

  • Honour and memorialize the victims of the systemic racist slave trade.
  • Critically investigate the past and modern practices of racial injustice, exploitation, and slavery.
  • Collectively analyze the historical causes, outcomes, and methods of the tragedy of the transatlantic slave trade.
  • Fight racism and eliminate racist social structures.
  • Remember those who fought to abolish the slave trade and slavery throughout the world.
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International Day for the Remembrance of Slave Trade and its Abolition Timeline & Facts

  • In 1994, UNESCO launched the Slave Route Project to educate the general public about concepts of race, exploitation systems, decolonizing, deracializing, etc.
  • On 29th July 1998, through the Circular CL/3494, the Director-General to Ministers of Culture invited all the UN Member States to organize events and mark 23rd August each year to commemorate the tragedy of the transatlantic slave trade.
  • On 23rd August 1998, the International Day for the Remembrance of Slave Trade and its Abolition was first celebrated in Haiti, among other countries of the world.
  • On 23rd August 1999, the International Day for the Remembrance of Slave Trade and its Abolition was celebrated in Goree in Senegal.
  • In 2001, the Mulhouse Textile Museum in France participated in the commemoration through a workshop for fabrics called Indiennes de Traite - a type of cotton fabric that was used as an exchange currency for the slaves in the 17th and 18th centuries.

☛ Also Read: Current Affairs Today

The traumatic stress of slavery and exploitation has had a psychological and social impact on several generations of enslaved communities. Through the Slave Route Project, UNESCO heals impacted individuals and fights against racism and all forms of discrimination that are still alive.

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FAQs on International Day for the Remembrance of Slave Trade and its Abolition

Q1. When is the International Day for the Remembrance of Slave Trade and its Abolition?

23rd August is globally observed as the International Day for the Remembrance of Slave Trade and its Abolition and honours of the victims of the slave trade.

Q2. Why was the International Day for the Remembrance of Slave Trade and its Abolition launched?

International Day for the Remembrance of Slave Trade and its Abolition was launched because UNESCO proclaimed the day to mark the tragedy of the slave trade and instil it in the memory of all people globally.

Q3. What does the International Day for the Remembrance of Slave Trade and its Abolition commemorate?

The International Day for the Remembrance of Slave Trade and its Abolition commemorates the uprising against colonial empires on the night of August 22-23, 1791, in Santo Domingo.

Q4. Who announced the International Day for the Remembrance of Slave Trade and its Abolition?

Through the Circular CL/3494, UNESCO's Director-General to Ministers of Culture invited all the UN Member States to mark 23rd August as International Day for the Remembrance of Slave Trade and its Abolition to commemorate the tragedy of the transatlantic slave trade.

Q5. What is the purpose of the International Day for the Remembrance of Slave Trade and its Abolition?

The purpose of International Day for the Remembrance of Slave Trade and its Abolition is to end slavery and all forms of discrimination globally.