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International Law

U.N. reacts to Lewis & Clark law students’ report

January 14, 2015

The present and the previous U.N. Special Rapporteurs on slavery have both responded to the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Workshop report on slavery in Mauritania, A Roadmap to Where? The report, published in November 2014, condemned the inadequacy of Mauritania’s plans to combat slavery in the country, still ranked worst in the world by the Global Slavery Index, and criticized the previous Special Rapporteur for her complacency over Mauritania’s inadequate measures to give effect to her comprehensive recommendations.

Gulnara Shahinian, the Special Rapporteur until May 2014, has said that she is pleased that the Workshop took on “this important exercise” and appreciates the report. She has pointed out that there have been developments in combatting slavery in Mauritania involving monthly planning meetings, which she finds encouraging. She has commented that “change does not come so quickly, it requires systematic and long term commitment, specifically when we speak on phenomenon as ‘slavery’.”

The current Special Rapporteur, Urmila Bhoola, has commended the report as containing “some excellent insights and critical recommendations. These will be of immense guidance in taking the work of my predecessor, Ms Shahinian, forward.”

Professor John Grant, who supervised the Workshop, is not surprised that A Roadmap to Where? has been so well received in the U.N. human rights system. “The report is exceptionally well researched, thought through and written, and gets right to the heart of the issue. Gulnara Shahinian produced a fabulous set of detailed and structured recommendations for ending slavery in Mauritania and Mauritania responded with a mishmash of incoherent proposals in its Roadmap to Combat Slavery. It is, however, a little disturbing that she should now think in terms of a gradualist approach to ending slavery in a country with such an appalling record when the international consensus is for zero tolerance of slavery.”