Under international law, slavery is illegal — at all times and in all places. Yet according to the 2016 Global Slavery Index, some 45.8 million people (1 in every 162 people on earth) are subject to a form of modern slavery.
How can this massive gap between principle and practice be closed?
A two-year long United Nations University initiative led to a public commitment last week by the International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor, Fatou Bensoudato, to help end slavery. Ms Bensouda spoke at United Nations Headquarters in a 10 June event organised by UNU’s Office in New York, the Permanent Mission of Liechtenstein to the UN, and The Freedom Fund.
The event launched a special issue of the Journal of International Criminal Justice, which is available for free download throughout June. The articles in the special issue look at the ways in which international criminal justice has contributed to the fight to end slavery, and possibilities for an increased contribution in the future.
Read together, the articles acknowledge that the ICC must overcome significant obstacles (relating to jurisdiction, resources, and political will) to be successful in prosecuting slavery crimes, but they also suggest how these obstacles can be overcome.
For more, see the article “There Are 45.8 Million People in Slavery Today. Where is the ICC?” by UNU’s James Cockayne on the UNU-CPR website.