The Legal Understanding of Slavery: From the Historical to the Contemporary

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Jean Allain
OUP Oxford, Sep 27, 2012 - Law - 416 pages
"Slavery is the status or condition of a person over whom any or all of the powers attaching to the right of ownership are exercised." So reads the legal definition of slavery agreed by the League of Nations in 1926. Further enshrined in law during international negotiations in 1956 and 1998, this definition has been interpreted in different ways by the international courts in the intervening years. What can be considered slavery? Should forced labour be considered slavery? Debt-bondage? Child soldiering? Or forced marriage? This book explores the limits of how slavery is understood in law. It shows how the definition of slavery in law and the contemporary understanding of slavery has continually evolved and continues to be contentious. It traces the evolution of concepts of slavery, from Roman law through the Middle Ages, the 18th and 19th centuries, up to the modern day manifestations, including manifestations of forced labour and trafficking in persons, and considers how the 1926 definition can distinguish slavery from lesser servitudes. Together the contributors have put together a set of guidelines intended to clarify the law where slavery is concerned. The Bellagio-Harvard Guidelines on the Legal Parameters of Slavery, reproduced here for the first time, takes their shared understanding of both the past and present to project a consistent interpretation of the legal definition of slavery for the future.
 

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Interpretation of Quran by Islamic scholars were influenced and contaminated by the leftovers of pre-islamic social system. The revolutionary impact of the life of prophet Mohammed, uprooting slavery with the Quranic guidance, was ignored in the contemporary analysis of Islamic jurisdiction.
The terminology in Quran "Malakat Aymanukum" is wrongly translated as slaves. It is actually meant for the prisoners of war. Quran has never mixed term for Slave (Abd) with War captives (malakat Aymanukum). Slavery is a social evil. “Prisoners of war” is a diplomatic reality.
Traditional interpretation of Quran shall be retold emphasizing the prophet's life as the interpretation as it formulated the ideal social system of equality abolishing slavery.
For slavery Quran’s answer is emancipation with no compromise. In the very beginning of Prophet’s campaign Bilal was emancipated. In this very beginning of Islam’s struggle for existence the slaves of pre Islamic society became martyrs.
Quran 24:33 command the believers to free the prisoners of war with necessary financial support for their independent existence and survival. The verse also warn that limiting of their freedom keeping them as prisoners of war will imply to refusing them solemnized married life and will be equal to compelling them for adultery .
 

Contents

Introduction
1
HISTORICAL READINGS OF THE LAW OF SLAVERY
7
THE AMERICAN EXPERIENCE BLURRED BOUNDARIES OF SLAVERY
103
THE 1926 DEFINITION IN CONTEXT
197
CONTEMPORARY SLAVERY
279
Appendices
375
Index
393
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About the author (2012)

Jean Allain is Professor of Public International Law at Queen's University, Belfast. He is Extraordinary Professor, Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, South Africa. He is founding Editor of the Irish Yearbook of International Law and the author of The Slavery Conventions (2008) and Slavery in International Law (2012).

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