ARTICLE: On the Curious Disappearance of Human Servitude from General International Law

Jean Allain

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11 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The following study considers the fragmentation of law which occurred in 1956 with regard to the law on servitude. As States were unwilling to go as far as the Universal Declaration on Human in establishing that "no one shall be held in [...] servitude", the negotiators of the 1956 Supplementary Conventions moved to expunge the very term 'servitude' from the text and to replace it with the phrase 'institutions and practices similar to slavery' which could then be abolished 'progressively and as soon as possible'. The negotiation history of the 1956 Convention clear demonstrate that the Universal Declaration on Human was the elephant in the room and that it ultimately lead to a fragmentation of the law as between general international law manifest in the 1956 Supplementary Convention on the one hand and international human rights law on the other. It is for this reason that, for instance the 2001 UN and 2005 Council of Europe trafficking conventions mention both 'practices similar to slavery' and 'servitude' as types of human exploitation to be suppressed in their definition of 'trafficking in persons'.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)303-332
Number of pages30
JournalJournal of the History of International Law
Volume11
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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