Is Jean Allain a slave to the study of slavery? – book review – The Slavery Conventions: The Travaux Preparatoires of the 1926 League of Nations Convention and the 1956 United Nations Convention (Martinus Nijhoff, 2008)
Jean Allain is one of the worlds foremost experts on the international law of slavery. Some would argue, it is his lifes work.
One thing is certain, he is one of the few legal scholars in history who has had the steadfastness to dig into the bowels of various UN libraries worldwide to put together the pieces of the highly elusive slavery conventions puzzle. Anyone that knows anything of this complex area of law knows that the slavery conventions, and what is considered the prevailing overall law on the subject, was not something constructed overnight or even in a year but over many decades, under the trusteeship of both the the UN and seminally, the League of Nations.
With his book ‘ The Slavery Conventions’, Jean Allain has donned the cap of a forensic researcher to find us all the relevant working documents and negotiations history on the subject. He has analysed it with his sound scholarly skill and applied it, with a plethora of caselaw and legislative reference, for modern context. This work will inject clarity to the murky and ambiguous interpretation of the incongruous material of the past.
While I do not always agree with Allain’s views on the Middle East conflict, I commend his work highly on this subject and in turn recommend this text as an addition/acquisition to any human rights library or collection of works pertaining to this very important subject. Any human rights enthusiast will appreciate its worth on perusal.
The main Slavery Conventions brought together in this work are:
The 1926 League of Nations Slavery Convention
The 1953 Protocol Amending the Slavery Convention
The 1956 Supplementary Convention
They should be considered in tangent with:
The 2000 Palermo Protocol on the prevention, suppression and punishment of trafficking in persons;
The 2005 Copuncil of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in human beings
Humorous postscript – this piece by Elisabeth Wynhausen and Natalie O’Brien appeared in the Australian newspaper at the time of the High Court Case of Wei Tang, which incidentally considered the meaning of slavery. Excerpt concerning this book below.
‘A faint but unmistakable air of showmanship pervades the resulting proceedings. The plummy-voiced beetle-browed Mr Solicitor, as Bennett is called, doesn’t just look and sound like a character out of Rumpole, he actually resembles John Mortimer. Now and then an observer new to the High Court may wonder if the judges and these learned friends are playing a game called “Who’s got the best treaty, then?”
While Hayne quotes “the Official Journal of the League of Nations reporting on the 92nd Session of the council of the league for July 1936”, Brett Walker SC, the counsel for HREOC, quotes a book by a certain Monsieur Allain. Holding up the work in question, he says: “I understand I have the only copy in the country.”
The formidable performances almost seem to obscure the facts of the case.’
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Was “Old Hickory” i.e. Andrew Jackson an ethnic cleanser? BOOK Review Pulitzer Prize Winner 2009: Biography Prize – ‘American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House’ by Jon Meacham
Newsweek editor, Jon Meacham, has taken out the ‘biography prize’ at the 2009 Pulitzer Awards held at Columbia University for his work ‘American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House,’ a best-seller about the populist US president whose sympathy for the less fortunate never extended to slaves.
“Jackson represents the best and the worst of us” Meacham said of his work
Apparently Meachem accessed materials not and/or rarely consulted before, to bring us this fascinating page turner. ‘Old Hickory’ Andrew Jackson was a great defender of democracy and it’s founding principles, yet he was a man tainted by his rich life as much as he was honoured. It is highly open for debate whether he would be considered a human rights abuser and ethnic cleanser today in hindsight. He stood for the defense of human rights, yet in the same breath seemed to attack them. Meacheam does a great job in giving humanity to a man that history has been unkind to in so many ways, justifiably or not. Meachem deserves praise for highlighting the positives of the 7th President of the US as much as the US$20 bill does. He is very adept at political PR.
The book is a good addition to the historical understanding of American political history, slavery and the plight of Native Americans. Meacham’s background as a journalist lends greatly to the readability of this text. It is not an academic work, but that is what makes this work. It is more like a compelling storytelling newspiece than a dry ‘academic standard’ american history textbook.
Get it now. It doesn’t disappoint. One could expect to build it up too much in the expectation stakes before reading it, especially after the media frenzy surrounding the winning of a pulitzer, but we were pleasantly surprised that it was as good as the media that covered its accolade made out.
The story of Jackson is certainly not one that is settled between historians. To get a feel for the other side of the historical coin on him, not just the legend, we enourage prospective readers to also consider having a read of Professor of History – Andrew Bursteins ‘The Passions of Andrew Jackson’ (Vintage, 2004) contemoraneously with Meachams work. We suspect the truth lies somewhere in between the two versions.
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Pulitzer Prize Winners 2009 : non-fiction award – ‘Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II’
Well, the Pulitzer Prize winners for 2009 have been announced this morning at Columbia University and this year the awards for human rights pieces are admirable. The general nonfiction award went to “Slavery by Another Name : The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II” by Douglas A. Blackmon, the Atlanta bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal.
“It’s a huge honor for me,” Blackmon said of his Pulitzer, “but more importantly I hope it really validates the idea that this is a part of American history that we have ignored and neglected, and it’s time for a really dramatic reinterpretation of what happened to African-Americans during that period of time.”
Check the book out here at Amazon, as we here at the Human Rights Book Review intend to-
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