Including the Slave Trade in the Draft Articles on Prevention and Punishment of Crimes Against Humanity
On April 11, 2023, the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Sierra Leone to the United Nations submitted in writing its proposal to include the slave trade as an enumerated provision in the Draft articles on Prevention and Punishment of Crimes Against Humanity (“Draft Articles”).
In its current composition, the Draft Articles enumerate the prohibitions of enslavement and sexual slavery. The Draft Articles, however, omit the enumeration of the slave trade even though under international law the slave trade is a jus cogens or peremptory norm with erga omnes obligations. The status of the slave trade stands uncontested as a treaty-based and customary-based international crime, a crime against humanity, and a nonderogable human rights violation.The slave trade protects against serious conduct that requires redress in all circumstances, including during a widespread or systematic attack against a civilian population. This brief supports Sierra Leone’s proposal and advances the reasons for the Draft Articles to incorporate a provision for the slave trade as a crime against humanity.