International Day For The Remembrance Of The Slave Trade And Its Abolition

Every year, August 23 is observed as International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition. This international holiday was created by UNESCO to commemorate the transatlantic slave trade. The date for this holiday was chosen because from August 22 to August 23, 1791, on the island of Haiti (originally known as Saint Domingue), a slave uprising began that would set events into motion that would eventually lead to the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade. Every year, events are organized by UNESCO member states, educators, and artists to spread the word about this holiday to ensure no one forgets about the evils of slavery.

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

This holiday first began as a celebration of the abolition of slavery in several different countries in 1998 and 1999. These countries included Haiti and Senegal. The holiday was observed with cultural events, debates, and displays that highlighted the history of the transatlantic slave trade. It is from these humble origins that the holiday began to spread throughout the world.

When the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization adopted Resolution 29 C/40 at the 29th session of the General Conference, it set the official date of this holiday. The purpose of this day is to focus on the historic causes and consequences of slavery and the methods by which slavery was perpetuated.

Facts About the Transatlantic Slave Trade

Since the transatlantic slave trade is at the heart of this day, it is important to think about it in more detail. Although we do not have the space to go into the history of the slave trade in detail, we can list some of the facts we have learned about it below. We encourage everyone reading this to learn more about the transatlantic slave trade so they can gain a better understanding of it.

Millions Upon Millions of Slaves Were Sold

Over the period of the entire transatlantic slave trade—ranging from the early 16th century to the mid-19th century—over 12.5 million slaves were shipped from Africa. Of those slaves, approximately 11 million would end up in the Americas.

The Slave Trade Increased Over the Years

During the 1690s, about 30,000 Africans were taken as slaves. This number increased each and every year until almost 90,000 Africans were being taken as slaves by the 1790s. Between the 1830s and the 1850s, more than a million more Africans would be taken from Africa and made into slaves.

Observing International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and Its Abolition

Observing this day can be easily done by attending some of the cultural and historical events that are held on this day. People should also take it upon themselves to learn more about the transatlantic slave trade so that the tragedies of the past are not continued in the future. While you’re observing this holiday, use the hashtag #RemembranceOfTheSlaveTrade on your social media accounts to spread the word about it.

When is it?
This year (2024)
August 23 Friday
Next year (2025)
August 23 Saturday
Last year (2023)
August 23 Wednesday
Culture & History, United Nations