International Day for the Abolition of Slavery | 2nd December 2016

United Nations: A domestic worker washes clothes by hand in New Delhi, India. Photo: ILO/B. Patel

Friday 2nd December 2016 is the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, a day that is observed by the United Nations every year to spread awareness about the need to eradicate modern forms of slavery.


Slavery still exists in many forms around the world, including human trafficking, forced marriage, sexual exploitation, child labour and the use of children in armed conflict. The universal prayer intention of Pope Francis for December 2016 is an end to child soldiers.


The United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has put out a message for the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery 2016:

…This year’s observance coincides with the 90th anniversary of the 1926 Slavery Convention, and the 60th anniversary of the 1956 Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, the Slave trade and Institutions and Practices similar to slavery.

We can draw some encouragement from decreases in the number of children engaged in the worst forms of child labour, the expansion of comprehensive legal and policy frameworks to tackle contemporary slavery and trafficking, and growing public awareness of the issue.

However, according to estimates by the International Labour Organisation, almost 21 million people are victims of forced labour, trapped in situations of extreme exploitation, abuse and violence, including sexual and gender-based violence. Those suffering multiple forms of discrimination, including women, children, indigenous peoples, minorities, people of African descent, and persons with disabilities, all too often face extreme vulnerability to exploitation and abuse…

– UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon

You can read his full message here.


Action you can take:

  • Sign the Walk Free petition encouraging the Commonwealth to take up the cause of ending modern slavery and include it as a topic at their next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). For more information and to sign the petition, head here.
  • Sign to show your support for the 50 for Freedom campaign, which calls on world leaders to ratify the International Labor Organization (ILO)’s Protocol on Forced Labor. For more information and to show your support, click here.
  • Educate yourself. Slavery still exists in many forms and in many countries around the world, including Australia. There are a number of organisations and websites that provide resources and information to help people understand these issues – here are just a few:


Source: International Day for Abolition of Slavery – 2 December, UNODC – International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, 50 for Freedom, Walk – Get Slavery on the Agenda

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