International Day for the Abolition of Slavery

2 December

"This year's International Day for the Abolition of Slavery comes as the international community is intensifying efforts to eradicate poverty and forge a post-2015 development agenda. In pursuing these goals, it is vital that we give special consideration to ending modern-day slavery and servitude which affects the poorest, most socially excluded groups - including migrants, women, discriminated ethnic groups, minorities and indigenous peoples.

There has been important progress in the last year. A number of countries have acted to combat slavery through stronger domestic legislation and greater coordination. More and more businesses are working to ensure their activities do not cause or contribute to contemporary forms of slavery in the workplace and their supply chains."

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
Message for the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery 2 December 2013


The 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 this first Convention to fight human trafficking by the United Nations 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, and all regions. UNODC has identified more than 460 individual trafficking flows across the world in the period between 2007 and 2010, with the detection of victims of 136 nationalities in 118 countries. As the scale of the phenomenon becomes clearer, it is evident that the crime of trafficking in persons presents a distinct set of challenges still to be overcome by most countries. While the number of convictions for trafficking in persons crimes, for example, is increasing, most countries' conviction rates remain very low - despite the widespread prevalence of human trafficking, the most recent Global Report on Trafficking in Persons records that one in three countries covered by the Report were unable to identify any convictions for human trafficking crimes between 2007 and 2010.

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, 158 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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