Ban on slavery and the slave trade

No one may be held in slavery or servitude. Slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms. No one may be compelled into forced labour or other enforced work.

Article 4 in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states “No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.” The prohibition on slavery is also found in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Article 8) and the European Convention on Human Rights (Article 4).

History of slavery
Slavery has been found in many forms and existed in various cultures and in several eras. Slavery existed in the Nordic countries during the Viking Age. It also existed in Ancient Greece and the Roman Empire. The transatlantic slave trade began in the seventeenth century. A number of European countries, including Sweden, conducted trade in slaves on the west coast of Africa, from where slaves were exported to the Caribbean, South and North America. Slavery and the slave trade were outlawed by European countries in the nineteenth century, ending the transatlantic slave trade.

Modern forms of slavery
One modern-day form of slavery is human trafficking. Human trafficking is a crime of devastating scope and consequences. The United Nations estimates that between three and four million people, primarily women and children, are the victims of human trafficking every year and that the majority of these are exploited sexually and prostituted. In addition to prostitution and other forms of sexual exploitation, the victims of human trafficking are also subjected to forced labour, slavery, trade in human organs and other forms of exploitation.

Read the Swedish Government's Action Plan against Prostitution and Human Trafficking for Sexual Purposes