International Day for the Abolition of Slavery 2022: History, Significance and Celebrations

International Day for the Abolition of Slavery is a UN recognized event and it is annually observed on 2nd December worldwide. On this day in 1949, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others. 

The focus of this day is on eradicating contemporary forms of slavery, such as trafficking in persons, sexual exploitation, the worst forms of child labour, forced marriage, and the forced recruitment of children for use in armed conflict. 

It is about raising awareness and reinforcing global efforts in combatting the scourge of modern slavery. Governments, organizations, and individuals are entreated to take this day specifically as an opportunity to denounce the atrocities of slavery in its modern form that still exist in the world.  

Event International Day for the Abolition of Slavery
Date December 2, 2022
Day Friday
Significance The day is dedicated to the abolition of modern forms of slavery
Observed by World wide

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International Day for the Abolition of Slavery History: 

The history of slavery spans many cultures, nationalities, and religions from ancient times to the present day. Likewise, its victims have come from many different ethnicities and religious groups. The social, economic, and legal positions of enslaved people have differed vastly in different systems of slavery in different times and places. Slavery has been found in some hunter-gatherer populations, particularly as hereditary slavery, but the conditions of agriculture with increasing social and economic complexity offer greater opportunity for mass chattel slavery. 

Slavery operated in the first civilizations (such as Sumer in Mesopotamia, which dates back as far as 3500 BC). Slavery features in the Mesopotamian Code of Hammurabi (c. 1750 BC), which refers to it as an established institution. Slavery was widespread in the ancient world in Europe, Asia, Middle East, and Africa. It became less common throughout Europe during the Early Middle Ages, although it continued to be practised in some areas. Both Christians and Muslims captured and enslaved each other during centuries of warfare in the Mediterranean. As in turn of the modern century slavery cane to end legally across the world. But illegally slavery still continues. 

The International Day for the Abolition of Slavery focuses on eradicating modern forms of slavery like trafficking, sexual exploitation, child labor, forced marriage, and forced recruitment of children into armed conflict. The day is observed on December 2, which marks the same date that the U.N. Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others was adopted by its member states on December 2, 1949, and it is expected to be observed by governments, organizations, and people all around the world as a day specifically set aside to rebuke all forms of modern-day slavery that still exist in the world today. 

Since 1995, the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery has shone the spotlight on atrocities of modern slavery and tried to inspire commitment to better humanity, December 2 wasn’t recognized as the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery until exactly a decade after a U.N. Working Group on Slavery submitted a report that tendered the date for consideration as the World Day for the Abolition of Slavery in 1985. As even though slavery is no longer legal anywhere in the world, human trafficking is still nevertheless a global issue in our world today and there are many modern forms of slavery which exists.  

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International Day for the Abolition of Slavery Significance: 

Slavery has evolved and manifested itself in different ways throughout history. Today some traditional forms of slavery still persist in their earlier forms, while others have been transformed into new ones. The UN human rights bodies have documented the persistence of old forms of slavery that are embedded in traditional beliefs and customs. These forms of slavery are the result of long-standing discrimination against the most vulnerable groups in societies, such as those regarded as being of low caste, tribal minorities and indigenous peoples. 

Alongside traditional forms of forced labour, such as bonded labour and debt bondage there now exist more contemporary forms of forced labour, such as migrant workers and in forced prostitution. And the worrying thing is that modern slavery is actually on the rise especially after the Covid-19 pandemic and the economic crisis caused by it. Latest estimates by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) show that forced labour and forced marriage have increased significantly in the last five years. 10 million more people were in modern slavery in 2021 compared to 2016 global estimates, bringing the total to 50 million worldwide. Women and children remain disproportionately vulnerable. 

Although modern slavery is not defined in law, it is used as an umbrella term covering practices such as forced labour, debt bondage, forced marriage, and human trafficking. Essentially, it refers to situations of exploitation that a person cannot refuse or leave because of threats, violence, coercion, deception, and/or abuse of power. Modern slavery occurs in almost every country in the world, and cuts across ethnic, cultural and religious lines. More than half (52 per cent) of all forced labour and a quarter of all forced marriages can be found in upper-middle income or high-income countries. 

The goal of the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery is to get enough people to be aware of the scourge of modern slavery and commit to ending it. The day provides an opportunity to make a change. By talking about it to people and persuading them to commit to ending it, the day serves as an avenue to make a lasting impact in our world. There’s no better motivation to collectively work towards a better and just future than having a look at the thing we are currently bad at. Because International Day for the Abolition of Slavery highlights our errors in the area of slavery and the traditional beliefs and institutions that have actively supported it, it serves as a motivation for us to demand something better for our world. 

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International Day for the Abolition of Slavery Celebrations: 

During this day, many people take an opportunity to share their views in writings through poetry, essays, interviews, feature articles, stories and other kinds of published material. Sessions are conducted to review the history of the slave trade, its evolution, and changes that occurred in the due course of time. This is dome as a way to make people educate about the horrible experiences which people had to face because of slavery to unite people against slavery. 

The modern-day slave trade and its effects on human rights are promoted by online, print and broadcast media during this celebration. Some political leaders also participate in this event by conveying their message to work together in eliminating any kind of slavery in modern society. Newsletters, leaflets, flyers, posters and other published materials about abolishing slavery and the slave trade are dispensed across the universities and other public areas. It is not a public holiday.

One way to observe the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery and to bring a meaningful change is to commit to only buying goods labeled as ‘fair trade,’ indicating that those goods are produced ethically. Check the companies you purchase from and their supply chains to ensure there was no slave labor used in producing the goods. You can also call on businesses to end forced labor and slavery in their chains. 

Most Searched  FAQs on International Day for the Abolition of Slavery: 

1. When is International Day for the Abolition of Slavery observed? 

International Day for the Abolition of Slavery is annually observed on 2nd December. 

2. Who is responsible for the abolition of slavery? 

William Wilberforce (1759–1833), a British politician and philanthropist, led the movement to abolish the slave trade. 

3. Which was the last country to abolish slavery? 

Although according to records, the last known slave ship carried captives to Cuba in 1866, Mauritania is known as the last country in the world to abolish slavery in 1981. 

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