Redress for Slavery Crimes: Pathways Through International Justice? 

The slave trade prohibition is one of the oldest core international crimes, yet it remains among the least prosecuted or punished. One reason that the slave trade prohibition is largely “missing in action” is that it’s not included in modern international judicial mechanisms—significantly, it is not an enumerated international crime in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. In recent years, there have been efforts to revitalize the slave trade prohibition, including by amending the Rome Statute to include the international crime of the slave trade. If successful, this could provide an international legal basis for reparations for slavery and the slave trade.

In her Keynote Presentation, Patricia V. Sellers, international criminal lawyer and Special Advisor for Slavery Crimes for the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC, will discuss the evolution of slavery crimes, why this issue is resurgent in the present moment, and how these recent efforts connect more broadly to global movements for racial justice and demands for reparations for colonialism and slavery. As she will outline, there is a critical link between reparations for today’s enslaved persons and reparations for historic acts of slavery and the slave trade.

UCLA Law Professor Anna Spain Bradley will provide Introductory Remarks, and the Presentation will be moderated by International Human Rights Clinic Director and Promise’s Racial Justice Policy Counsel S. Priya Morley.