The Nineteenth Century Law of the Sea and the British Abolition of the Slave Trade

Jean Allain

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This study focuses on British attempts during the nineteenth century to outlaw the Atlantic Slave Trade internationally, for which it was successful, after seventy-five years of effort. It considers the lack of willingness to allow Great Britain, at the Congress of Vienna and during the Concert of Europe, to establish a universal treaty outlawing the slave trade. As a result, this mandated a change in British tactics, which would ultimately prove to be successful – the establishment of a web of bilateral agreements which came to included all maritime powers. The study then moves on to consider the evolution of these bilateral agreements while highlighting the relationship between Great Britain and States (Brazil, France, Portugal and the United States) which were obstinate in their willingness to join this bilateral regime. Finally, consideration is given to the move towards the establishment of the 1890 General Act of Brussels; and thus the conclusion of the decades long British foreign policy objective of a universal instrument meant to suppress the Atlantic Slave Trade.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)342-388
Number of pages47
JournalBritish Yearbook of International Law
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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