Anti-Slavery International

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Anti-Slavery International
Abbreviation Anti-Slavery
Motto Today's fight for tomorrow's freedom
Purpose Anti-slavery
Headquarters London
Region served
Dr Aidan McQuade

Anti-Slavery International is an international non-governmental organization, registered charity[1] and a lobby group, based in the United Kingdom. Founded in 1839, it is the world's oldest international human rights organization, and the only charity in the United Kingdom to work exclusively against slavery and related abuses.[2]

It owes its origins to the radical element of an older Anti-Slavery Society, known as the "Agency Committee of the Society for the Mitigation and Gradual Abolition of Slavery Throughout the British Dominions", which had substantially achieved abolition of slavery in the British Empire. A successor organisation, the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society[3] was then created to campaign against the practice of slavery in other countries. In 1990 it was refounded as Anti-Slavery International, which works to combat slavery and related abuse, drawing attention to the continuing problem of slavery worldwide and campaigning for its recognition, abolition and eradication in the countries most affected today.


Buxton Memorial Fountain, celebrating the emancipation of slaves in the British Empire in 1834, in Victoria Tower Gardens, Millbank, Westminster, London

Anti-Slavery International is the only British charity exclusively committed to eliminating all forms of slavery and slavery like practices. Founded in 1839, it is the world’s oldest international human rights organisation and bases its work on the United Nations treaties against slavery.

It has consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council and observer status at the International Labour Organisation. It is a non-religious, non-political independent organisation.

Anti-Slavery International works closely with partner organisations from around the world to tackle all forms of modern slavery, including:

  • bonded labour (also known as debt bondage)
  • descent based slavery
  • forced labour
  • forced marriage
  • the worst forms of child labour
  • the exploitation of migrant workers in conditions amounting to slavery (particularly migrant domestic workers)
  • human trafficking.

The organisation's goal is a world free from slavery and it uses following approaches to achieve it:

  • Enabling people to leave slavery through frontline projects with local partners
  • Helping victims of slavery – with frontline work ensuring they access the psychological and legal support they need to recover and obtain justice and compensation
  • Supporting the empowerment of people to be better protected from slavery to help communities demand respect for their human rights and tackle the root causes of slavery through access to education and the elimination of caste and gender inequality
  • Identifying ways in which abuses can be brought to an end, demonstrating how communities can sustainably leave, or obtain protection from, slavery
  • Advocating and lobbying within countries for legislation, policy and practice that prevent and eradicates slavery
  • International policy work and campaigning – lobbying and holding to account international institutions such as the United Nations, the European Union, the African Union and the International Labour Organisation and businesses
  • Collecting information and publishing reports about slavery related abuses and promoting public action to end them.


Isaac Crewdson (Beaconite) writer Samuel Jackman Prescod - Barbadian Journalist William Morgan from Birmingham William Forster - Quaker leader George Stacey - Quaker leader William Forster - Anti-Slavery ambassador John Burnet -Abolitionist Speaker William Knibb -Missionary to Jamaica Joseph Ketley from Guyana George Thompson - UK & US abolitionist J. Harfield Tredgold - British South African (secretary) Josiah Forster - Quaker leader Samuel Gurney - the Banker's Banker Sir John Eardley-Wilmot Dr Stephen Lushington - MP and Judge Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton James Gillespie Birney - American John Beaumont George Bradburn - Massachusetts politician George William Alexander - Banker and Treasurer Benjamin Godwin - Baptist activist Vice Admiral Moorson William Taylor William Taylor John Morrison GK Prince Josiah Conder Joseph Soul James Dean (abolitionist) John Keep - Ohio fund raiser Joseph Eaton Joseph Sturge - Organiser from Birmingham James Whitehorne Joseph Marriage George Bennett Richard Allen Stafford Allen William Leatham, banker William Beaumont Sir Edward Baines - Journalist Samuel Lucas Francis August Cox Abraham Beaumont Samuel Fox, Nottingham grocer Louis Celeste Lecesne Jonathan Backhouse Samuel Bowly William Dawes - Ohio fund raiser Robert Kaye Greville - Botanist Joseph Pease, railway pioneer W.T.Blair M.M. Isambert (sic) Mary Clarkson -Thomas Clarkson's daughter in law William Tatum Saxe Bannister - Pamphleteer Richard Davis Webb - Irish Nathaniel Colver - American not known John Cropper - Most generous Liverpudlian Thomas Scales William James William Wilson Thomas Swan Edward Steane from Camberwell William Brock Edward Baldwin Jonathon Miller Capt. Charles Stuart from Jamaica Sir John Jeremie - Judge Charles Stovel - Baptist Richard Peek, ex-Sheriff of London John Sturge Elon Galusha Cyrus Pitt Grosvenor Rev. Isaac Bass Henry Sterry Peter Clare -; sec. of Literary & Phil. Soc. Manchester J.H. Johnson Thomas Price Joseph Reynolds Samuel Wheeler William Boultbee Daniel O'Connell - "The Liberator" William Fairbank John Woodmark William Smeal from Glasgow James Carlile - Irish Minister and educationalist Rev. Dr. Thomas Binney Edward Barrett - Freed slave John Howard Hinton - Baptist minister John Angell James - clergyman Joseph Cooper Dr. Richard Robert Madden - Irish Thomas Bulley Isaac Hodgson Edward Smith Sir John Bowring - diplomat and linguist John Ellis C. Edwards Lester - American writer Tapper Cadbury - Businessman not known Thomas Pinches David Turnbull - Cuban link Edward Adey Richard Barrett John Steer Henry Tuckett James Mott - American on honeymoon Robert Forster (brother of William and Josiah) Richard Rathbone John Birt Wendell Phillips - American M. L'Instant from Haiti Henry Stanton - American Prof William Adam Mrs Elizabeth Tredgold - British South African T.M. McDonnell Mrs John Beaumont Anne Knight - Feminist Elizabeth Pease - Suffragist Jacob Post - Religious writer Anne Isabella, Lady Byron - mathematician and estranged wife Amelia Opie - Novelist and poet Mrs Rawson - Sheffield campaigner Thomas Clarkson's grandson Thomas Clarkson Thomas Morgan Thomas Clarkson - main speaker George Head Head - Banker from Carlisle William Allen John Scoble Henry Beckford - emancipated slave and abolitionist Use your cursor to explore (or Click "i" to enlarge)
A painting of the 1840 World's Anti-Slavery Convention. Use a cursor to see who is who.[4]

The first Anti-Slavery Society was founded in 1823 and was committed to the abolition of slavery in the British Empire, which was substantially achieved in 1838 under the terms of the Slavery Abolition Act 1833. In 1839, English activist Joseph Sturge formed a successor organisation, British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society (today known as Anti-Slavery International), which worked to outlaw slavery in other countries.

In 1840, the World Anti-Slavery Convention was organised in London that attracted delegates from around the world (including from the United States of America, in the South of which slavery was at times referred to as "our peculiar institution") to the Freemasons' Hall, London on 12 June 1840. Many delegates were notable abolitionists, with Thomas Clarkson the key speaker, and the image of the meeting was captured in a remarkable painting that still hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in London.[5]

At the beginning of the 20th century Anti-Slavery Society campaigned against slavery practices perpetrated in the Congo Free State by King Leopold II of Belgium. It was the first campaign in history that used photography to document the abuses (photographs were taken by the missionary Alice Seeley Harris). The campaign eventually helped bring an end to Leopold's tyranny.

In the 1920s the Society helped end the indentured labour system in the British colonies after campaigning against the use of Indian and Chinese "coolies". In 1921 Played a pivotal role in ending the activities of the Peruvian Amazon Company, which was using indigenous slave labour in rubber production. The organisation also successfully lobbied for the League of Nations inquiry into slavery, which resulted in the 1926 Slavery Convention that obliged all ratifying states to end slavery. It also heavily influenced the content of the 1956 UN Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery.

During the 1990s Anti-Slavery, an original supporter of the End Child Prostitution, Pornography and Trafficking campaign (ECPAT), helped set up the UK branch. it was one of the organisers of the 1998 Global March against Child Labour, which helped lead to the adoption of a new ILO Convention on the Worst Forms of Child Labour, 1999 (No. 182).

In the 21st century it worked with Nepalese NGO INSEC to secure Government backing to abolish the Kamaiya form of bonded labour; in 2003 with local NGO Timidria conducted a survey that led to the criminalisation of slavery in Niger, and lobbied the Brazilian government to introduce a National Plan for the Eradication of Slavery.

In 2005 it organised a major campaign on child camel jockeys in the Gulf States, which influenced the UAE's decision to rescue and repatriate up to 3,000 child camel jockeys.

In the UK, it successfully lobbied to make trafficking of sexual and labour exploitation a criminal offence in 2004.

It also influenced the development of the Council of Europe Convention against trafficking in human beings.

In 2008 it supported a former slave, Hadijatou Mani, in obtaining the verdict of international ECOWAS court that found the state of Niger guilty of failing to protect her from slavery. The ruling set a legal precedent with respect to the obligations of states to protect its citizens from slavery.

In June 2010, following the campaign by Anti-Slavery International and Liberty the UK Parliament introduced a criminal offence of forced labour in the Coroners and Justice Act 2009.

In 2010 the organisation exposed the routine use of the forced labour of girls and young women in the manufacture of garments in Southern India for Western high streets, prompting, eventually, business and international civil society efforts to end the practice.

Anti-Slavery also successfully campaigned to force the UK government to sign up to a new EU anti-trafficking law to help better protect the victims and secure justice for people who have been trafficked (2011). It also played a big part in lobbying the International Labour Organisation to adopt a Convention on Decent Work for Domestic Workers in June 2011.

Modern-day slavery

Underground trade in human beings still exists in the twenty-first century. Regions heavily involved in the trade now include Eastern Europe, West Africa, South America and South Asia.[6] Contemporary slavery comes in various forms, including bonded labour, early and forced marriages, forced labour, slavery by descent, and human trafficking.

Bonded labour often leads to slavery by descent: mimicking the circumstances of indentured servitude (in which, for the cost of medicine or travel, or for some other debt, labour is rendered for a specific period), the underlying loan often is not fully repaid before death, so the obligation to repay it is passed down to a family member. Work may be unrelenting, seven days a week and without break the year round.

Early and forced marriages involve women and girls who are forced into marriages in which they are subjected to harsh labor conditions and suffer physical violence.

Gordon, a slave showing scars from whipping, 1863.

Most early modern non-criminal forced labour, before the rise of abolitionist movements in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, generally was the lifelong work of slaves from Africa on plantations in the Western hemisphere. Present-day forced labour is less obvious; people are enslaved by governments, powerful individuals, or political parties and forced to work by threats of violence to the slaves or to their loved ones.

Human trafficking is the illegal transportation of kidnapped women, children, and men across international borders in order to put them into slavery at the destination. This form of modern slavery is one of the most common and may affect the most people: it is estimated that between 500,000 and 800,000 victims enter the trade each year.

Current projects

Anti-Slavery International is currently working on the Victim Protection Campaign better identify, protect and support the victims of slavery in the UK, Cotton Crimes campaign to end forced labour in Uzbekistan's cotton industry, and Home Alone campaign to end domestic slavery in the UK and across the world.

The organisation currently runs four programmes:

South Asia Programme primarily focuses on bonded labour in India's brick kilns, and bonded labour practices in Nepal's agriculture. It also runs a project focusing on construction workers migrating to Qatar.

Women and Girls Programme focuses on the gender aspect of vulnerability to slavery and works mainly on projects focusing on migrant domestic workers migrating from Nepal and Bangladesh to Lebanon and within India. It also runs a project supporting child domestic workers in Peru.

Africa Programme focuses on working against descent based slavery in Mauritania and Niger, as well as forced child begging in Senegal.

Europe Programme focuses on advocating for better policies protecting victims of slavery in the UK and the rest of Europe.

Increasingly the organisation focuses on slavery in global supply chains, encouraging businesses to identify risks of slavery and implement policies minimising the occurrence of slavery practices in their supply chains.

Anti-Slavery Award

Anti-Slavery International instituted the Anti-Slavery Award in 1991 to draw attention to the continuing problem of slavery in the world today and to provide recognition for long-term, courageous campaigning by organisations or individuals in the countries most affected.

  • 1991: Bonded Labour Liberation Front (India)
  • 1992: Ricardo Rezende
  • 1993: End Child Prostitution in Asian Tourism (ECPAT)
  • 1994: Edwin Paraison
  • 1995: Harry Wu
  • 1996: Regional Indigenous Organisation of Atalaya (OIRA)
  • 1997: Pureza Lopes Loiola
  • 1998: Cheïkh Saad Bouh Kamara
  • 1999: Vivek and Vidyullata Pandit
  • 2000: George Omona
  • 2001: Association for Community Development (ACD)
  • 2002: Backward Society Education (BASE)
  • 2003: Vera Lesko
  • 2004: Timidria
  • 2005: Cecilia Flores-Oebanda, (Visayan Forum Foundation)
  • 2006: James Aguer Figueira
  • 2007: Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW)[7]
  • 2009: SOS Esclaves
  • 2010: Justice 4 Domestic Workers
  • 2012: Temedt

See also


  • Anti-slavery: The Reporter and Aborigines Friend, by Alan Whittaker, Anti-Slavery International. Published by Anti-Slavery International, 1990.
  • Children in Bondage: Slaves of the Subcontinent, by Anti-Slavery International, Hope Hay Hewison, Alan Whittaker. Published by Anti-Slavery International, 1991. ISBN 0-900918-27-6.
  • Forced Prostitution in Turkey: Women in the Genelevs : a Report, by Anti-Slavery International, Anne-Marie Sharman. Contributor Anti-Slavery International Staff. Published by Anti-Slavery International, 1993. ISBN 0-900918-30-6.
  • Britain's Secret Slaves: An Investigation Into the Plight of Overseas Domestic Workers in the United Kingdom, by Bridget Anderson, Anti-Slavery International, Kalayaan (Organisation), Migrant Domestic Workers (Organisation). Published by Anti-Slavery International, 1993. ISBN 0-900918-29-2.
  • Slavery in Brazil: A Link in the Chain of Modernisation : the Case of Amazonia, by Alison Sutton, Anti-Slavery International. Published by Anti-Slavery International, 1994. ISBN 0-900918-32-2.
  • This Menace of Bonded Labour': Debt Bondage in Pakistan, by Anti-Slavery International. Published by Anti-Slavery International, 1997. ISBN 0-900918-35-7.
  • Slavery in Sudan, by Peter Verney, Anti-Slavery International, Sudan Update. Published by Sudan Update, Anti-Slavery International, 1997. ISBN 0-900918-39-X.
  • Enslaved Peoples in the 1990s: Indigenous Peoples, Debt Bondage and Human Rights, by Anti-Slavery International, International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs. Published by IWGIA, 1997. ISBN 0-900918-40-3.
  • Redefining Prostitution as Sex Work on the International Agenda, by Jo Bindman, Jo Doezema, Anti-Slavery International, Published by Anti-Slavery International, 1997.
  • Anti-slavery Reporter, by Anti-Slavery International. Published by The Society, 1998.
  • Debt Bondage: Slavery Around the World, by Anti-Slavery International, Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace. Published by Anti-Slavery International ; Development and Peace, 1999. ISBN 2-921936-02-X.
  • Human Traffic, Human Rights: Redefining Victim Protection, by Elaine Pearson, Anti-Slavery International. Published by Anti-Slavery International, 2002. ISBN 0-900918-55-1.
  • International Action Against Child Labour: Guide to Monitoring and Complaints Procedures, by Pins Brown, Anti-Slavery International, Published by Anti-Slavery International, 2002.
  • The Cocoa Industry in West Africa: A History of Exploration, by Anti-Slavery International. Published by Anti-Slavery International, 2004.
  • Over 200 Years of Campaigning Against Slavery, by Mike Kaye, Anti-Slavery International. Published by Anti-Slavery International, 2005. ISBN 0-900918-61-6.


  1. Anti-Slavery International, Registered Charity no. 1049160 at the Charity Commission
  2. Anti-Slavery International UNESCO.
  3. Sharman, Anne-Marie (1993), ed., Anti-Slavery Reporter vol 13 no 8, London: Anti-Slavery International
  4. Anti-Slavery Society Convention 1840, National Portrait Gallery, London
  5. National Portrait Gallery
  6. Kevin Bales (2004). New slavery: a reference handbook. pp. 15–18. ABC-CLIO
  7. Awards winners
  • Anti-Slavery International, by Anti-Slavery International, Published by Adam Matthew Publications, 2001.
  • "Anti- Slavery: Today's fight for Tomorrow's Freedom." Anti-Slavery International. 9 September 2008. Anti-Slavery International. 11 November 2008 <>.
  • "Join The Fight For Freedom 1807-2007." Anti-Slavery International. 1 August 2008. Anti-Slavery International. 11 November 2008 <>.

External links

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