The day intends to remind people of the tragedy of the transatlantic slave trade. It gives people a chance to think about the historic causes and the consequences of slave trade. This year the day has special meaning as 2011 is the International Year for People of African Descent.
In 1998 at its 29th session, the UNESCO Executive Board proclaimed 23 august the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and of its Abolition. The observance was first celebrated in a number of countries, in particular in Haiti, paying tribute to the night of 22-23 August 1791 when the uprising of slaves took place in Santo Domingo island (now Haiti and the Dominican Republic), an uprising began which set forth events which were a major factor in the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade.
The day is not to be confused with the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, observed annually on 2 December.
In Angola the day is marked by a conference organized by the Eduardo dos Santos Foundation at the Agostinho Neto University in Luanda, on the theme "Escravos angolanos povoaram tambem as Antilhas Neerlandesas" (“Angolan slaves also populated the Netherlands Antilles), by Angolan historian Simao Souindoula, member of UNESCO's Scientific Committee.
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Abolition of the Transatlantic Slave Trade 200 Years On