Jul 24, 2018

Briefing: The Struggle for the Eradication of Slavery in the Sahel

On 24 July 2018, the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO), in cooperation with the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, will host a briefing on the issue of modern-day slavery in the Sahel. The event will bring together researchers and academics familiar with the struggle for the eradication of slavery, as well as representatives from communities in the Sahel who are affected by forms of present-day slavery to discuss the best way to achieve the full realization of human rights in the region. Participants will discuss ways in which slavery is embedded into the culture of many local communities, and the response generated by the media coverage of the slave trade in Libya.

Freedom from Tradition: The Struggle for the Eradication of Slavery in the Sahel

24 July 2018, 9:30 - 11:00 am | Cannon House Office Building 121 | Washington, DC


Slavery is accepted in many circles as a horror that humanity has fortunately left in the past. In fact, slavery continues to be practiced in many modern societies with minimal recognition and inadequate response from the international community. Slavery is a violation of an individual’s right to dignity and self-determination, a violation of the most basic human rights established through international law. It is essential to eradicate all forms of slavery throughout the world and allow everyone the freedom of thought and expression.

Although footage of African migrants being sold into bondage in Libya recently received extended media coverage which generated international uproar, other situations of slavery exist and deserve similar condemnation and action. In the Sahel region of Africa, hereditary slavery has persisted despite decades-old legislation banning the practice. Women and children in particular are victims of slavery-like conditions and human trafficking. Poor governance, tacit acceptance by local elites, and  entrenched racial hierarchies have helped perpetuate the practice of slavery.  The effects of climate change and Islamist terrorism may also drive already impoverished segments of the population into the hands of slave owners and human traffickers. Examples of communities vulnerable to slavery in this region are the Haratin people of Mauritania (who reportedly represent the country’s largest ethno-racial group) and the Bellah people of northern Mali. Both are unrepresented in the political systems of their respective countries and both  face socioeconomic discrimination.


Confirmed speakers include:

  • Biram Dah Abeid (President IRA-Mauritania)
  • Alice Bullard (IRA USA)
  • Maurice Middleberg (Free the Slaves)
  • Bakary Tandia (The Abolition Institute)
  • Ismael Montana (Northern Illinois University)