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Message from the Director-General of UNESCO 

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

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Since 1998, UNESCO has been reminding the international community of the importance of commemorating 23 August, International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition. This date not only commemorates the historic night in 1791 when the slaves of Santo Domingo rose up to break their chains and launch the insurrection that eventually led to the Haitian revolution, it also serves to pay tribute to all those who worked collectively and individually to trigger the irreversible process of the abolition of the slave trade and slavery throughout the world. This commitment and the strategies of action used that were conducted to fight the inhumane system of slavery were to have a considerable impact on the human rights movement.

Beyond the act of commemoration, this international Day aims at eliciting reflection on a tragic past that may be distant but whose repercussions continue to fuel injustice and exclusion today. This reflection on the barbarity our society is capable of unleashing with a clear conscience is all the more necessary, salutary even, as millions of men, women and children still today suffer the horrors of new forms of slavery. This is how the remembrance of past tragedies serves to enlighten us about present-day tragedies of exploitation and dehumanization.

Reconciling the demands of the historical truth and the duty of keeping the past alive, while stimulating the debate on the problems of dealing with painful memories, intercultural dialogue and democratic citizenship in multi-ethnic and multicultural societies is, ultimately, the objective of proclaiming this day of remembrance. More (pdf)

Also available in Arabic | Russian | Chinese



Author(s) Mr Ko´chiro Matsuura
Date 23 Aug 2007

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