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New Left Review I/227, January-February 1998

Alex de Waal

Exploiting Slavery: Human Rights and Political Agendas in Sudan

Slavery exists in contemporary Sudan: there are perhaps ten thousand people held as unfree labourers and regarded, by their owners and by themselves, as slaves. Under any definition this is an outrageous violation of human rights and an indictment of the government under which it exists. But the relationship between slavery and government policy is ambiguous. The evidence suggests that the resurgence in slavery has arisen from social and economic decay in rural western Sudan, combined with government military policies designed with other ends in mind. Nonetheless, the single issue of slavery has taken on a logic and momentum of its own. At times, it has threatened to obscure all other issues in the country, including abusive policies for which the government is directly responsible.

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Alex de Waal, ‘Exploiting Slavery: Human Rights and Political Agendas in Sudan’, NLR I/227: £3

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