International Day for the Abolition of Slavery (December 2)

Is the international legal body failing?

On the occasion of the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) would like to draw attention to the almost 50 million people who are currently living in some modern form of slavery. “Apparently, the international legal order – according to which slavery should be illegal – is failing in this regard,” stated Nadja Grossenbacher, STP expert on genocide prevention and the Responsibility to Protect. “It is our social responsibility to bring light to slavery all over the world – and to abolish it. In order to achieve this, the first step must be to put an end to impunity. Those who are responsible must be found and held accountable.”

Modern forms of slavery can be found all over the world. The available data shows that most of these cases can be found in Asia – the most populous continent. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), there are also many cases of human trafficking in West Africa. However, modern forms of slavery can also be found in western countries. In most cases, the victims are submitted to forced labor or sexualized exploitation – but there are also cases of organ theft.

For years, the STP has been advocating for tangible measures to actually put an end to slavery. Initiatives for a de facto abolishment of slavery can not only be found in western countries. For example, the organization Rescue Alternatives Liberia investigates slavery-like exploitation on rubber plantations in Liberia. According to its director, Sam M. Nimely, a possible means to put an end to these practices would be to send fact-finding missions to these areas, to collect data and to present it to decision makers in companies and to the government. “Statistics derived from the personal testimonies could be used to raise awareness for this problem among government representatives, international cooperation partners, and the people of Liberia.”