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CHRONOLOGY OF abolitions

1777
Abolition of slavery in Vermont (USA).

1780
Gradual emancipation of slaves in Pennsylvania (USA).

1783
Gradual emancipation of slaves in Massachusetts and New Hampshire (USA).

1784
Gradual emancipation of slaves in the states of Rhode Island and Connecticut (USA).

26 août 1789
Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, France.

1793
Commissioner Sonthonax abolishes slavery in the French possession of Saint-Domingue.

1794
The Convention passes the Decree on the Abolition of Slavery, which broadens Sonthonax’s abolition to include the other French colonies.

1802
Napoleon Bonaparte re-establishes slavery and the slave trade in accordance with the law in force prior to 1789.

1803
Denmark prohibits the slave trade.

1804
Haïti abolishes slavery.

1806
Great Britain prohibits British subjects from engaging in the slave trade.

1807
Prohibition of the importation of captives and slaves by the United States. Great Britain prohibits the slave trade on the coast of Africa. Abolition of slavery in Prussia.

1808
Prohibition of the slave trade by the United States.

1814
Prohibition of the slave trade by the Netherlands.

1815
At the Congress of Vienna, a commitment is made by the principal European powers (the Austrian Empire, Great Britain, France, Portugal, Russia and Sweden) to put an end to the slave trade. An illegal trade nevertheless continues. During the Hundred Days, Napoleon I prohibits the slave trade by decree.

1817
French law abolishing the slave trade. It repeats this on 25 April 1827 and 22 February 1831.

1821
Peru: freeing of the children of slaves born from this date on, gradual emancipation of those born beforehand and outlawing of the slave trade.

1822
Abolition of slavery in Santo Domingo. The state of Liberia is founded in West Africa by an American colonisation society to install freed black slaves there.

1823
Abolition of slavery in Chile.

1824
Abolition of slavery in Costa Rica, Honduras, Panama, Belize, El Salvador and Guatemala.

1826
Abolition of slavery in Bolivia.

1827
Second French law prohibiting the slave trade.

1829
Abolition of slavery in Mexico.

1830
Abolition of slavery in Uruguay.

1833- 1838
Promulgation of the Abolition Bill, providing for the progressive abolition of slavery in the British colonies (West Indies, British Guyana, Mauritius and India).

1836
Complete abolition of slavery in the British colonies. Abolition of slavery in Nicaragua.

1840 & 1843
The World Anti-Slavery Convention meets in London.

1842
Abolition of slavery in Uruguay and Paraguay.

1846
Abolition of slavery in Tunisia.

1846-1848
Abolition of slavery in the colonies of the Danish West Indies: Saint Thomas, Saint John and Santa Cruz.

1847
Abolition of slavery in the Swedish colony of Saint Barthélemy.

1848
Decree of 27 April 1848 abolishing slavery in the French colonies (Martinique, Guadeloupe, French Guiana and Réunion).

1850
Official abolition of the slave trade in Brazil. An illegal trade nevertheless persists.

1851
Abolition of slavery in Colombia and Ecuador.

1853
Abolition of slavery in Argentina.

1854
Abolition of slavery in Venezuela, Jamaica and Peru.

1861
Prohibition of serfdom in Russia.

1863
Abolition of slavery in the Dutch colonies of the Caribbean and the East Indies.

1865
The United States promulgates the 13th amendment prohibiting slavery.

1866
Spanish decree prohibiting the slave trade.

1869
Portugal abolishes slavery in its colonies.

1873
Abolition of slavery in Puerto Rico, at that time a Spanish colony.

1876
Abolition of slavery in Turkey.

1885
The Berlin Conference takes measures against slavery in Africa.

1886
Abolition of slavery in Cuba.

1888
Effective abolition of slavery in Brazil.

1890
Brussels Conference and General Act on slavery and the slave trade in Africa.

1894
Abolition of slavery in Korea.

1896
Abolition of slavery in Madagascar.

1900
International Anti-Slavery Congress held in Paris.

1907
Abolition of slavery in Kenya.

1910
Abolition of slavery in China.

1922
In Morocco, automatic emancipation of all fugitive slaves.

1923
Abolition of slavery in Afghanistan.

1926
The Geneva Convention of the League of Nations condemning slavery is ratified by 44 countries. Abolition of slavery in Nepal.

1928
Abolition of slavery in Iran.

1930
Forced Labour Convention of the International Labour Organisation.

1937
Abolition of slavery in Bahrain.

1942
Abolition of slavery in Ethiopia.

1948
Article 4 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations, confirmed by the convention of 1956.

1949
Abolition of slavery in Kuwait. United Nations Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others.

1952
Abolition of slavery in Qatar.

1956
Adoption by the UN of the Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, the Slave Trade, and Institutions and Practices Similar to Slavery.

1957
Abolition of Forced Labour Convention of the International Labour Organization.

1962
Abolition of slavery in Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

1970
Abolition of slavery in Oman.

1974
The UN sets up a Working Group on Contemporary Forms of Slavery within the framework of the Commission on Human Rights.

1981
Abolition of slavery in Mauritania.

1989
The United Nations adopts the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

1992
Abolition of slavery in Pakistan.

1994
Launch of the UNESCO “Slave Route” Project.

1996
First European Union communication on trafficking in human beings.

1999
Coming into force of Convention 182 of the International Labour Organisation on “the prohibition of the worst forms of child labour”.

2000
The European Union Charter of Fundamental Rights prohibits slavery, forced labour and trafficking in human beings.

2001
French Law of 21 May 2001 recognising slavery and the slave trade as crimes against humanity. The United Nations World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance (Durban, South Africa) acknowledges that ‘slavery and the transatlantic slave trade are a crime against humanity’.

2002
Adoption by the French National Assembly of a law “to combat trafficking in human beings”.

2004
United Nations International Year to Commemorate the Struggle against Slavery and its Abolition.

2005
2 December, International Day for the Abolition of Slavery.

2008
Declaration by UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon: “The slave trade was abolished formally 200 years ago, but this flagrant human rights violation persists, fuelled by a continuing lack of respect for the dignity of human beings, a denial of their humanity and desperate poverty.”

Today
The United Nations and the International Labour Organization estimate that modern slavery and forced labour involve at least 200 to 250 million people, of which a high proportion are children. The illicit nature of these crimes precludes more accurate statistics, and it is probable that the phenomenon is unfortunately more widespread.