Wednesday, February 19, 2020


Article Index

A. Prohibition of Slavery as Jus Cogens International Law

Any discussion of the prospect of African reparations must necessarily begin with an assessment of the legal status of the institutions of slavery and colonization. As discussed earlier, slavery has been rejected by the United States and the international community for over seventy-five years. During that time, the prohibition has been sufficiently incorporated into the customary international law to be fairly characterized as a jus cogens international law of human rights. The rejection of colonialism has also been fully incorporated into customary international law, although its claim to jus cogens status may be affirmed less vigorously within the international community than that of slavery. As a result of the universal condemnation of slavery, colonialism, genocide, and war crimes, states generally possess universal jurisdiction to define and punish violations of those basic rights. However, as a possible lingering effect of the earlier international law of near universal foreign immunity, courts remain reluctant to review the actions of foreign states, particularly when a significant amount of time has lapsed.

Vernellia R. Randall
Founder and Editor
Professor Emerita of Law
The University of Dayton School of Law


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