West African Governance and the 21st Century Mediterranean Slave Trade: A Critical Analysis

  • Cornel Chinedu U. Udumaga
  • Okechukwu Declan Izim
Keywords: Contemporary Slavery, Governance, Human Trafficking, Mediterranean Slave Trade, West Africa


The 21st century has witnessed a revival of the slave trade in the Mediterranean, bringing to mind the transatlantic slave trade that plagued the West African region centuries ago. This article provides a critical analysis of the contemporary relationship between West African governance and the resurgence of the Mediterranean slave trade. This study investigates the socio-political, economic, and historical factors that contribute to the persistence of this contemporary catastrophe, drawing on extensive research and a multidisciplinary approach. The research used governance theory as its theoretical foundation. The data were obtained from secondary sources and analysed using a qualitative technique. Multiple socio-political and economic factors influenced the vulnerability of individuals in West African countries in relation to West African governance and the Mediterranean slave trade, as revealed by the study. The Mediterranean slave trade of the twenty-first century had severe consequences for both West Africa and the entire world. To prevent and eradicate this modern form of slavery, the study recommends addressing the fundamental causes, promoting regional cooperation, strengthening legal frameworks, and providing support for victims, among other measures.


African Union Commission (AUC) (2018). Study on the smuggling of migrants and trafficking in persons in West and Central Africa. Retrieved from https://au.int/sites/default/files/documents/33815-doc-2019. africa_anti-
Bales, K. (2007). Ending Slavery: How we free today's slave. University of California Press.
Berlin, I. (2003). Generations of captivity: A history of African-American slaves. Harvard University Press.
Blackburn, R. (2011). The making of new world slavery: From the Baroque to the Modern, 1492-1800. Verso.
Buchanan, J. M. (1975). The limits of liberty: Between anarchy and leviathan. University of Chicago Press.
Davis, D. B. (2014). Inhuman bondage: The rise and fall of slavery in the new world. Oxford University Press.
Davis, R. C. (2006). Christian slaves, Muslim masters: White slavery in the Mediterranean, the Barbary Coast, and Italy, 1500-1800. Palgrave Macmillan.
Drescher, S. (2009). Abolition: A history of slavery and antislavery. Cambridge University Press.
Economic Community of West African States (2007). Revised treaty of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). https://www.ecowas.int/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Revised-Treaty-E.pdf
Economic Community of West African States (2015). ECOWAS regional plan of action against Trafficking in persons. Retrieved from https://www.ecowas.int/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/pdf
ECOWAS. (2015). Strategy and action plan to combat trafficking in persons, Especially women and children in West Africa. Retrieved from https://www.ecowas.int/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/pdf
Eltis, D. (2000). The rise of African slavery in the Americas. Cambridge University Press.
Fregoso, R. L. (2019). Colonialism and gender in the Mediterranean: Slavery, family, and Islam. Palgrave Macmillan.
Gallagher, A. (2010). The international law of human trafficking. Cambridge University Press.
Galvin, J. (2018). The Mediterranean slave trade: Heritage and memory. Oxford Research Encyclopaedia of African History.
Hochschild, A. (2005). Bury the chains: Prophets and rebels in the fight to free an empire's slaves. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Inikori, J. E. (1992). Africans and the industrial revolution in England: A study in international trade and economic development. Cambridge University Press.
Inikori, J. E. (2002). The slave trade and the Atlantic economy, 1451-1870. Ashgate.
International Organisation for Migration (2017). Migration in West Africa: Patterns, issues, and challenges Retrieved from https://publications.iom.int/system/files/pdf/wmr_2017_en.pdf.
International Organisation for Migration (2017). Trafficking in persons report: Nigeria Retrievedfrom https://www.iom.int/sites/default/files/country/docs/nigeria/15_iom_nigeria_naptip_report.pdf
International Organisation for Migration (2020). West and Central Africa: Trafficking routes and associated challenges. Retrieved from https://publications.iom.int/system/files/pdf/west_central_africa_trafficking_routes_and_associated_challenges.pdf
Klein, H. S. (2010). The Atlantic slave trade. Cambridge University Press.
Klein, M. A. (2003). Slavery and colonial rule in Africa. Routledge.
Lovejoy, P. E. (2019). Transformations in slavery: A history of slavery in Africa. Cambridge University Press.
Manning, P. (1990). Slavery, colonialism, and economic growth in Dahomey, 1640-1960. Cambridge University Press.
Mintz, S., & McNeil, S. (2019). The birth of African-American culture: An anthropological perspective. Routledge.
Niskanen, W. A. (1971). Bureaucracy and Representative Government. Aldine-Atherton.
Pierre, J., & Peters, B. G. (2000). Governance, politics, and the state. London, Macmillan International Higher Education.
Pollitt, C. (2003). The essential public manager. Open University Press.
Rediker, M. (2017). The slave ship: A human history. Penguin Books.
Rhodes, R. A. W. (1996). The new Governance: Governing without government. Political Studies, 44(4), 652-667.
Rodney, W. (1972). How Europe underdeveloped Africa. Bogle-L'Ouverture Publications.
Shelley, L. (2010). Human trafficking: A global perspective. Cambridge University Press.
UNDP. (1997). Governance for sustainable human development: A UNDP Policy Document. United Nations Development Programme.
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. (2018). Global report on trafficking in persons (2018) Retrieved from https://www.unodc.org/documents/data-and- analysis/glotip/2018/GLOTiP_2018_BOOK_web_small.pdf
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. (2020). Global report on trafficking in persons. Retrieved from https://www.unodc.org/
United States Department of State. (2021). Trafficking in persons report 2021: Nigeria Retrieved from https://www.state.gov/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/2021-TIP-Report- NGA-1.pdf
World Bank. (1992). Governance and Development. World Bank Policy Research Department.
How to Cite
Udumaga, C. C. U., & Izim, O. D. (2024). West African Governance and the 21st Century Mediterranean Slave Trade: A Critical Analysis. European Journal of Science, Innovation and Technology, 4(1), 74-84. Retrieved from https://ejsit-journal.com/index.php/ejsit/article/view/362