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

The United Nations’ (UN) International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition is annually observed on August 23 to remind people of the tragedy of the transatlantic slave trade. It gives people a chance to think about the historic causes, the methods, and the consequences of slave trade.

Each year the UN invites people all over the world, including educators, students, and artists, to organize events that center on the theme of this day. Theatre companies, cultural organizations, musicians, and artists take part on this day by expressing their resistance against slavery through performances that involve music, dance, and drama.

Educators promote the day by informing people about the historical events associated with slave trade, the consequences of slave trade, and to promote tolerance and human rights. Many organizations, including youth associations, government agencies, and non-governmental organizations, actively take part in the event to educate society about the negative consequences of slave trade. 

One devastating legacy of the transatlantic slave trade was racism. Historically, it was used to justify the enslavement of Africans. And today, it has led to people of African descent being relegated to the poorest and most marginalized sectors of society. The 2020 theme underscores the reality that lasting effects of the transatlantic slave trade, including racism, continue to divide societies across the globe and hamper our advancement towards a world that respects human rights and enables sustainable development for all. Only through confronting these legacies can we truly promote inclusion and move forward together.

Why does the UN still mark an International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition on 23 August? It’s partly to remind us that Slavery is supposed to be abolished, and also to draw attention to the lasting legacy of historical slavery.

Slave labour is characterised by the exercise of physical control over the worker. Despite being officially banned it is still alive and active.


Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is the fastest growing form of slavery today, and only a small percentage of the 2.5 million people trafficked throughout the world are given help and protection by the authorities. Trafficking is big business. The UN estimates that it is a $36bn global ‘industry’, as lucrative for those controlling it as the drugs and the arms trade. The pursuit of profit is the key motivation. Women and girls are particularly liable to end up in exploitative forms of work in domestic settings, prostitution and mail-order brides. Major causes of trafficking include poverty and conflict, but also discrimination against women and the poor, and inadequate educational and employment opportunities. The Internet has become its quick and easy vehicle and a means for traffickers to market women and children.

Many non-governmental organisations are addressing trafficking. Religious Orders, particularly women religious, are joining forces with them internationally to set up safe house programmes for victims and to campaign for legislation that will criminalise the traffickers.

Let us do our part by becoming actively alert and involved in the abolition of human slavery at all levels.