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

Medallion of British Anti-Slavery Society, 1795 by Josiah Wedgwood23 August 2013 -- In August of 1791, slaves in the French colony of Saint Domingue (present-day Haiti) launched an uprising that would lead to the Haitian Revolution and Haitian independence, play a crucial role in the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade and help promote the cause of human rights.

The slave trade was the biggest deportation in history. From the 16th through the 19th century, it wrenched millions of people from their homes, including an estimated 17 million Africans brought to the New World and sold as slaves. Studying the extent and consequences of this tragic history includes paying tribute to slaves' struggles for dignity and freedom, acknowledging their contributions to the affirmation of universal human rights and recognising the wealth of cultural traditions that African peoples have forged in the face of adversity.

In 1998, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) designated 23 August as an annual Day to inscribe the tragedy of the slave trade in the memory of all peoples. UNESCO invites all of its member states and people around the world to remember this history and continue struggles for freedom, against racial prejudice inherited from the past and against contemporary forms of slavery that affect an estimated 21 million people.

Source: UNESCO

Selected learning materials

Study Guide on Slavery and Forced Labour
A quick introduction on slavery, the slave trade, trafficking and modern-day slavery. 

Breaking the Silence: Learning About the Translantic Slave Trade (Anti-Slavery International)
This site aims to help teachers and educators to break the silence that continues to surround the story of the enslavement of Africa that began over 500 years ago. It is designed to provide teachers with a variety of resources and ideas about how to teach the subject holistically, accurately and truthfully. It aims to represent the voices that are not usually heard.

Freedom From Slavery (Amnesty International-USA)
This lesson plan provides teachers with a guide detailing how to educate their students about contemporary forms of slavery around the world. Through this lesson students will compare and contrast historical and present day images of slavery as well as produce artwork to inform and incite action to prevent modern day slavery.

Anti-Slavery Fact Sheets (Anti-Slavery International)
This is a series of useful lesson resources on various topics related to modern-day slavery. The two-pagers on "Bonded Labour" and "Slavery from the past..." can be used by teachers as illustrative materials in civic education, history or other social science classrooms.

International and regional documents on slavery, the slave trade and modern day slavery:

Slavery Convention (1927)

Protocol amending the Slavery Convention (1953)

Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, the Slave Trade, and Institutions and Practices Similar to Slavery (1956)

Useful links

Slave Route Project (UNESCO)

Slave Trade Archives Project

Virtual Visit to Gorée's 'House of Slaves'

World Conference Against Racism

Organisations working on slavery



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Related e-learning course

Human Rights Advocacy

Related resource

International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade (25 March)

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