New UNESCO Report on Historical and Contemporary Slavery

A New UNESCO/WISE publication: Unfinished Business: A Comparative Survey of Historical and Contemporary Slavery


By Dr Joel Quirk, Wilberforce Institute for the study of Slavery and Emancipation (WISE), University of Hull. 


The full report is avaliable as a free pdf download at





Interest in contemporary slavery has increased dramatically over the last ten years, but there remains a widespread tendency to view slavery in the past and slavery in current society as independent fields of study. This publication moves beyond this artifical divide, providing the first ever comparative analysis of historical slave systems and modern forms of human bondage. From this standpoint, recent concerns over human trafficking, debt-bondage, child labor and other related problems are analyzed in view of the historical strengths and weaknesses of the legal abolition of slavery. By bringing together a range of studies on different aspects of slavery, both past and present, this publication provides an innovative platform for promoting dialogue about ways of addressing both contemporary slavery and the enduring legacies of historical slave systems.