Slavery is a socio-economic system based on the exploitation of human beings, and functions only based through constraint and violence.

 A slave is a person who is not free: he or she belongs to a master who exerts total power over him or her.A slave is considered as a possession or good, and can be sold and separated from his or her family. He or she is obliged to carry out any work his or her master may require.

 According to the first article of the Geneva Convention, dated 25 September 1926:

« Slavery is the status or condition of a person over whom any or all of the powers attaching to the right of ownership are exercised.« 

Supplementary Convention on the abolition of slavery

The Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, the Slave Trade, and Institutions and Practices Similar to Slavery adopted in Geneva on 7 September 1956, adds to this text and defines as a situation of slavery

 « a) Debt bondage, that is to say, the status or condition arising from a pledge by a debtor of his personal services or of those of a person under his control as security for a debt, if the value of those services as reasonably assessed is not applied towards the liquidation of the debt or the length and nature of those services are not respectively limited and definedi;

b) Serfdom, that is to say, the condition or status of a tenant who is by law, custom or agreement bound to live and labour on land belonging to another person and to render some determinate service to such other person, whether for reward or not, and is not free to change his status;

 c) Any institution or practice whereby:

 I) A woman, without the right to refuse, is promised or given in marriage on payment of a consideration in money or in kind to her parents, guardian, family or any other person or group;

 II) The husband of a woman, his family, or his clan, has the right to transfer her to another person for value received or otherwise;

III) A woman, on the death of her husband, is liable to be inherited by another person;

 d) Any institution or practice whereby a child or young person under the age of 18 years, is delivered by either or both of his natural parents or by his guardian to another person, whether for reward or not, with a view to the exploitation of the child or young person or of his labour. »


Slave trading is the act of reducing human beings to the status of slaves, selling them or transporting them against their will:

According to the first article of the Geneva Convention, dated 25 September 1926 :

« The slave trade includes all acts involved in the capture, acquisition or disposal of a person with intent to reduce him to slavery; all acts involved in the acquisition of a slave with a view to selling or exchanging him; all acts of disposal by sale or exchange of a slave acquired with a view to being sold or exchanged, and, in general, every act of trade or
transport in slaves. »