The Definition of Slavery in International Law

Jean Allain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


On the basis of archival research, this Article considers the negotiation history of both the 1926 Slavery Convention and 1956 Supplementary Convention and demonstrates that an interpretation of the provisions of the definition of slavery consonant with the travaux préparatoires reveal a definition which provides for the possibility of holding States and individuals responsible for not only slavery de jure but also de facto. That understanding is premised on a reading of the definition that speaks not of the ‘ownership’ of one person by another; but of the powers attached to the right of ownership. It is through an exploration of this phrase that a proper understanding of the definition of slavery in international law emerges.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)239-275
Number of pages37
JournalHoward Law Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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