August 23: International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition

International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and Its Abolition is observed every year on 23 August with the aim of remembering the millions of victims of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Named by UNESCO, this day was first celebrated on 23 August 1998.

Key Points

  • August 23 was proclaimed by UNESCO as International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition. This on this day, in 1791, Santo Domingo witnessed an uprising setting in motion a chain of events the opened ways for the abolition of trans-Atlantic slave trade.
  • With this commemoration, UNESCO aims to highlight the need of spreading awareness regarding history of the slave trade in order for people to acknowledge the impact of slavery on modern world.


  • This date was chosen by adopting the resolution 29 C/40 by the 29th session of General Conference of UNESCO.
  • A Circular from Director-General dates July 29, 1998 invited Ministers of Culture to promote this day.

Significance of the day

August 23 is significant because, during the night of August 22-August 23 in 1791, an uprising started on the island of Saint Domingue (now Haiti). The uprising had set forth events leading to abolition of the transatlantic slave trade.

How this day is celebrated?

UNESCO Member States celebrate this day by organizing events and inviting participation from young people, artists, educators and intellectuals.

Slave Trade

Slave Trade was the result of affair between imperialism and racism. During those times, racist ideology was a basis for unjust political, social and economic practices which ultimately helped imperial powers in building their economies. Practice of racism and prejudices continue to haunt modern world. Even today, people of colour face discrimination because of stigmatising attitudes and perceptions.



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