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

International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and Its Abolition: History and Significance

August 23 is marked as the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition. During the imperialist regimes run by the colonial powers of Europe, slave trade was a cruel yet common practice. Through this practice, a section of the world and its peoples, mainly from Africa and Asia were reduced to mere slaves who were bought and sold and transported to colonial settlements in Haiti, Caribbean, and other parts of the world.


The International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition is commemorated on August 23 because of a significant event that took place surrounding this date. Santo Domingo, which is modern day Haiti and the Dominican Republic, was an erstwhile colonial settlement of France in the eighteenth century. The days of August 22 and August 23, 1791 saw the start of the uprising that would play a vital role in the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade led by the European colonial powers. The uprising inspired the Haitian Revolution which was led by the Black and the mixed race people against the colonial rulers.


This United Nations designated day is intended to remember and honour the tragedy of the slave trade in the memory of all peoples who were dehumanised by the cruel practice or systemic racism. According to the UN, the day should offer an opportunity for collective consideration of the historic causes, the methods and the consequences of this tragedy. This day should always remind people to continue to analyse and criticise such practices that may transform into modern forms of slavery and exploitation.

The day is marked to remember and honour the victims of the slave trade and the systemic racism they endured. It also hopes to foster critical analyses of such practices that might transform into modern forms of exploitation and slavery.

The UN hoped that the day would be an opportunity for collective reconsideration of the historical causes, consequences, and methods of the tragedy.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres said that while the transatlantic slave trade was abolished more than two centuries ago, the world continues “to live in its shadows of racial injustice”. He called upon the need to combat racism, dismantle racist structures, and reform institutions.

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