“The religious view (‘Ham’s Curse’) that black people were natural slaves and property had produced a racial consciousness that presented Africans and their descendants as inherently unfree.”
Liliana Obregón. International Legal Theory: Empire, Racial Capitalism and International Law. The Case of Manumitted Haiti and the Recognition Debt. Leiden Journal of International Law, 2018, 597-615.
The abolition of the slave trade has often been presented as ‘the most successful episode ever’ in the history of international law. International lawyers still tend to look at slavery in terms of its abolition, thereby suggesting that international law stepped in only to abolish the slave trade in the nineteenth century. This gives an excessively positive view of the law (and of lawyers), as if they always stood on the side of today’s humanitarian sentiments. Such a view is not only naïve, it is also harmful. In reality, legal rules and institutions are often created to advance the purposes of ambitious men who have made possible and perpetuated some of the worst injustices – injustices that we, lawyers, might not see (or want to see) when they are being committed. (238)
Anne-Charlotte Martineau. A Forgotten Chapter in the History of International Commercial Arbitration: The Slave Trade’s Dispute Settlement System. Leiden Journal of International Law. Vol. 31. 2018, 219–241.