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Enslaved Peoples as Prisoners of War

The struggle to abolish the slave trade and protect labor rights has been a catastrophic infringement of humanitarian rights upon people worldwide. The slave trade was first condemned by treaty in the Additional Articles to the Paris Peace Treaty of 1814 between France and Britain (Vega & Weisbrodt 2007). In 1885, the General Act of the Berlin Conference on Central Africa declared that “trading in slaves is forbidden in conformity with the principles of international law” (Vega & Weisbrodt 2007). In spite of the fact of slavery being forbidden, it would be strategically replaced with racial capitalism or economic slavery that would produce the largest atrocity of genocide known to mankind. However, the enslavement of beings from the Atlantic and Indian slave trade is rarely identified as a genocide nor is the residual effect of the war on civilians.

The Atlantic and Indian slave trade was an egregious war between the sovereignty of peoples and governments, companies, and international systems that supported institutionalized global exploitation. Although, the international legal documents have ideal principles, standards, and treaties they have wholeheartedly been breached by its creators, thus, it has not been applied to all states and its people. It is evident of the hypocrisy and contradictions that exists in international law which deliberately ostracizes groups of people to ensure justice is not obtainable. Article 1 of the 1907 Hague III Convention of the Opening of Hostilities asserts that:

“Hostilities between [contracting parties] must not commence without previous and explicit warning, in the form either of a declaration of war, giving reasons, or of an ultimatum with conditional declaration of war” (Orackhelashvili, 2019).

However, it is crucial to take notice of their being an absence of an explicit warning when it came to the deliberate genocide of people that became casualties (prisoners of war) of the Atlantic and Indian slave trade. This genocide would dismantle the infrastructures of various nation-states across continents for generations causing an ongoing mass confusion of the current state of war against citizens worldwide. Enslaved peoples and the generations that followed after, are prisoners of war from a system that is insidious in regard to their efforts to rewrite history, construct deceptive laws, and continuously breach of the inherent rights of mankind.

Paragraph 10 of General Assembly Resolution 2105, passed on December 1965 by seventy-four to six with twenty-seven abstentions:

“Recognizes the legitimacy of the struggle by people under colonial rule to exercise their right to self-determination and independence and invites all States to provide material and moral assistance to the national liberation movements in colonial territories” (Orackhelashvili 2019).

Yet, it fails to mention the pseudo-scientific belief of the superiority of ‘whites’ over ‘non-whites’. Orackhelashvili conceptions of war in international law excludes the prevalence of cultural, economic, spiritual, psychological, and biological chemical warfare which are all forms of intense violence that exists against non-whites from the conception of the slave trade to contemporary times. In the 1970 Friendly Relations Declaration asserts that the transgression of the right to self-determination is forbidden in international law:

“Every State has the duty to refrain from any forcible action which deprives peoples referred to above in the elaboration of the present principle of their right to self-determination and freedom and independence. In their actions against, and resistance to, such forcible action in pursuit of the exercise of their right to self-determination, such peoples are entitled to seek and to receive support in accordance with the purposes and principles of the Charter” (Orackhelashvili 2019).

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is meant to “settle legal disputes submitted to it by states (contentious jurisdiction) and give advisory opinion on legal questions referred to it by international organs and agencies duly authorized under advisory jurisdiction” (Orackhelashvili). Nonetheless, the deception lies in the ICJ condemning leaders of ‘African’ states and being deficient in condemning the parties that are involved in the economic and social disorder of these states. For instance, the British had a clear involvement in instigating the Rwandan genocide between the Tutsis and Hutus by way of misidentifying groups of people with arbitrary titles to promote the agenda of divide and conquer for their own political interests.

The issue of the matter is that there has been genocide coupled with the enslavement of war captives that have forgotten their cultures. Chattel slavery prospered through the attainment of war captives which calls attention to the process of enslavement through war, thus, it is imperative to reinterpret the concept of prisoners of war as those that were enslaved. In other words, war and violence have become an inescapable part of modern life. There is sociological, psychological, or political violence that has been constructed from the states of war that involves ethnic cleansing and systemic murders, which go unrecognized in the international legal systems comprehension of war, sovereignty, self-determination, and peace. Economic-socio-political states permits those in power to use charity as a façade of economic exploitation permitting civilized prisoners of war within a system of oppression. Structural violence is the foundation of global capitalism which is a system of oppression that maintains racism and racial violence within multicultural societies.


Orackhelashvili, Alexander, (2019) Akehurst’s Modern Introduction International Law: Eight

Edition. Chapter 21: Laws applicable to war and armed conflict. Routledge Taylor &

Francis Group. London and New York

Orackhelashvili, Alexander, (2019) Akehurst’s Modern Introduction International Law: Eight

Edition. Chapter 23: Settlement of disputes. London and New York

Resolution 2105 (XX, UNYb 1965, 554-5

Vega De La, Connie & Weissbrodt, David, 2007 International Human Rights Law: An

Introduction. University of Pennsylvania Press. Philadelphia.


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