Publication Date



Virginia Journal of International Law


Slavery and the slave trade stubbornly persist in our time, but they receive insufficient attention in international human rights law. Even when courts adjudicate slavery violations, they often fail to characterize slave trade conduct that nearly always precedes slavery. Courts also characterize acts that meet the definition of slavery or the slave trade only as other human rights harms, such as forced labor or human trafficking. This failure to accurately characterize violations also as slavery and the slave trade perpetuates impunity and denies victims full expressive justice. This Article argues for reviving international human rights law’s prohibitions of slavery and the slave trade. It also argues that a state responsibility complement to individual criminal accountability will assist to enforce or reform prohibitions of slavery and the slave trade in domestic laws, transform structures that perpetuate those harms, and dismantle systems that support them.



First Page



The Virginia Journal of International Law Association


slavery, slave trade, international human rights law, human rights, slavery violations, human rights harms


Human Rights Law | International Law | Law



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