Bellagio-Harvard Guidelines on the Legal Parameters of Slavery
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The Bellagio-Harvard Guidelines were developed between 2010-2012 as a means of giving legal certainty to the international recognised definition of slavery as set out in the 1926 Slavery Convention.
Developed by leading scholars and practitioners in property law, the law of slavery, and historical and contemporary slavery, the Guidelines were envisioned as a means of assisting judges in conceptualised slavery in a contemporary world which has abolished the legal ownership of human beings.
The Members of the Research Network who developed the Bellagio-Harvard Guidelines also produced an edited volume: Jean Allain (ed.), The Legal Understanding of Slavery: From the Historical to the Contemporary, OUP, 2012.
In 2016, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights accepted in the Hacienda Brasil Verde Workers v. Brazil case, that the following Guideline 2 was the manner in which to conceptualise slavery in international law:
- Guideline 2 – The Exercise of the Powers Attaching to the Right of Ownership
- In cases of slavery, the exercise of ‘the powers attaching to the right of ownership’ should be understood as constituting control over a person in such a way as to significantly deprive that person of his or her individual liberty, with the intent of exploitation through the use, management, profit, transfer or disposal of that person. Usually this exercise will be supported by and obtained through means such as violent force, deception and/or coercion.
The Guidelines are available below by clicking on the hyperlinks. They are reproduced in each of the official languages of the United Nations:
Members of the 2010-2012 Research Network on the Legal Parameters of Slavery:
Jean Allain, Queen’s University, Belfast
Kevin Bales, Free the Slaves
Annie Bunting, York University
John Cairns, University of Edinburgh
William M. Carter Jr., Temple University
Holly Cullen, University of Western Australia
Seymour Drescher, University of Pittsburgh
Stanley Engerman, University of Rochester
Paul Finkelman, Albany Law School
Bernard Freamon, Seton Hall University
Allison Gorsuch, Yale University
Robin Hickey, Durham University
Richard Helmholz, University of Chicago
Antony Honoré, University of Oxford
Aidan McQuade, Anti-Slavery International
Orlando Patterson, Harvard University
James Penner, University College, London
Joel Quirk, University of Witwatersrand
Jody Sarich, Free the Slaves
Rebecca Scott, University of Michigan