Every year on 23 August, the world observes the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition. The day is marked to “inscribe the tragedy of the slave trade in the memory of all peoples,” according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
The colonial empires of Western Europe were the main benefiters from the transatlantic slave trade. The trade transported people, mainly from Africa, in inhuman conditions to work as slaves in the colonial settlements in Haiti, Caribbean, and other parts of the world.
The night of 22-23 August 1791 saw the beginning of an uprising in Santo Domingo, in modern-day Haiti and Dominican Republic. The uprising in the French colony inspired the Haitian Revolution. It also played a major role in the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade.
Therefore, the United Nations (UN) decided to commemorate this day as the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition.
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.
The transatlantic slave trade ended more than 200 years ago.
Sadly, we continue to live in its shadows of racial injustice.
— António Guterres (@antonioguterres) August 23, 2021