According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), “…more than 40 million people worldwide are victims of modern slavery. Although modern slavery is not defined in law, it is used as an umbrella term that includes practices such as forced labor, debt bondage, forced marriage, and human trafficking. Essentially, it refers to situations of exploitation that a person cannot refuse or leave because of threats, violence, coercion, deception, and/or abuse of power…”, as stated by the United Nations.

This day was established to bring awareness about modern slavery. It was chosen to commemorate the anniversary of the Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic of Persons and the Exploitation of Prostitution of Others, which was adopted on December 2, 1949.

In 1995, the observance was renamed “International Day for the Abolition of Slavery” and focuses on the eradication of contemporary forms of slavery such as human trafficking, sexual exploitation, the worst forms of child labor, forced marriage and forced recruitment of children for armed conflicts.