International Day for the Abolition of Slavery

2 December

"Despite the considerable efforts of Governments, civil society and the international community, we still live in a world blighted by slavery and slavery-like practices.  Millions of human beings are subjected to an existence that is almost unfathomable in its degradation and inhumanity.

Debt bondage, serfdom and forced labour; trafficking in persons and trafficking for the purpose of organ removal; sexual exploitation, the worst forms of child labour, forced marriage, the sale of wives, widow inheritance, and the forced recruitment of children for use in armed conflict - these are among the manifestations of slavery today. All are crimes and egregious violations of human rights"


Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
Message for the International Day
for the Abolition of Slavery
2 December 2011


Resolution 317(IV) of 2 December 1949The International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, 2 December, marks the date of the adoption, by the General Assembly, of the United Nations Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others ( resolution 317(IV) of 2 December 1949). Today, the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, in fact recalls the date of the adoption of the first Convention to fight human trafficking by the General Assembly.

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.

Today, trafficking in persons is an issue of global concern, affecting almost all countries. According to ILO estimates, the minimum number of persons in forced labour, including sexual exploitation, at any given time as a result of trafficking is 2.45 million. The inhumane activity involves coercion, abuse of power and human rights violations. The crime of trafficking in persons for the purposes of  exploitation be it for labour, sexuality or organs, presents a distinctive set of challenges to most countries. Yet conditions in the current era of globalization such as the growth of informal economies and economic disparities between nations, increasing flows of labour and commodities across international borders, and transnational organized criminal networks are causing human trafficking to flourish on a global scale.

The most recent effort by the international community to address this crime at the global level is the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime which entered in force on 25 December 2003. The Trafficking in Persons Protocol provided, for the first time, a universally agreed upon definition of trafficking in persons. It addresses human trafficking as a crime including all forms of exploitation and all types of victims, seeking to foster greater criminal justice action, and the protection and implementation of the rights of victims. The Trafficking in Persons Protocol commits ratifying States to combating trafficking in persons, prosecuting perpetrators, protecting and assisting victims of trafficking and promoting cooperation among states in order to meet those objectives. To date, 147 countries are party to the Trafficking in Persons Protocol.


Further Information

Ratification status, Trafficking in Persons Protocol

International Framework for Action to Implement the Trafficking in Persons Protocol

UN Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Human Trafficking


UNODC and Human Trafficking

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UNODC News on Human Trafficking Subscribe to UNODC Human Trafficking (RSS Feed)


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