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The Slave Trade and the Origins of International Human Rights Law$
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Jenny S. Martinez

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780195391626

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780195391626.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 14 May 2021

Hostis Humani Generis

Hostis Humani Generis

Enemies of Mankind

(p.114) Chapter 6 Hostis Humani Generis
The Slave Trade and the Origins of International Human Rights Law

Jenny S. Martinez

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines two important concepts in contemporary international human rights law: the concept of universal jurisdiction over human rights abusers and the concept of crimes against humanity. It also discusses the links between slave trading and piracy and between slave trading and universal jurisdiction. By the middle of the nineteenth century, many countries had agreed to declare the slave trade a form of piracy in the hopes of making slave traders subject to capture and trial in the courts of any nation. In general, describing the slave trader as hostis humani generis emphasized the idea that these crimes were offenses against humanity. One of the most important conceptual developments that led to the development of the contemporary international human rights regime was the idea that violations of human rights are of global and not just local concern.

Keywords:   crimes against humanity, international human rights, human rights law, human rights abusers, slave trading, piracy, universal jurisdiction, human rights regime

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