Modern Slavery – ‘Human Writes’ essay competition winners

Posted on Wednesday, March 8th, 2017

We asked the question:

‘Theresa May calls modern slavery “the great human rights issue of our time”. Do you agree with her?’

And you replied in your droves!

The leading legal commentator Joshua Rozenberg kindly agreed to judge the shortlisted entries. Here are the results and Joshua’s comments:

Winner – aged 19 and over

Will Bordell

Will Bordell

Joshua said:Thought-provoking and attractively written. Humanises the problem in a stark and compelling way.  Questions whether it’s helpful to describe anything as the ‘greatest’ human rights issue. Shrewdly questions whether ‘slavery’ is even a justiciable human right. Exposes the weaknesses in current legislation. Uses sources to buttress his own argument rather than as a substitute for thought. The clear winner.”

Will begins his essay by challenging his readers with three questions that “we prefer not to answer”:

  • Who put the cocoa in my chocolate bar?
  • How was that dress so cheap?
  • Where does the man who washed my car sleep at night?”

Read Will’s essay here

Will wins £100 and a copy of Monsieur René Cassin’s biography by Jay Winter and Antoine Prost.

Winner – aged 18 and under

Ben Cartwright

Ben Cartwrtight

Joshua said: “Begins with a good summary of the problem and its causes. Realistic about the difficulties of a solution. Compares favourably with the essays by the over-18s.”

Ben concludes:

“ … where other human rights issues can be resolved, or at least mitigated, by the efforts of the international community, much of modern slavery will persist unless there are fundamental structural changes to the global economy …”

Read Ben’s essay here

Ben wins £100 and a copy of Monsieur René Cassin’s biography by Jay Winter and Antoine Prost.

Runners-up – aged 19 and over

Alexander Norrish

Joshua said : “Clearly written. Good anecdotes. The author asserts that poverty, not slavery, is the greatest human rights challenge facing the planet.”

Bradley Talbot

Joshua said: “Good analysis of the human rights convention and the UK legislation. Accepts that modern slavery is the greatest human rights issue of our time but asserts that this is the present government’s fault and within the power of the government to remedy.”

Lucy Waterstone

Joshua said: “A thoughtful assessment of the problems. Good detail and powerful polemic but does not really get to grips with the question posed.”