MAURITANIA: The International Divorce and Family Law Commission: Has the time come?

 The International Divorce and Family Law Commission

The entire world is a mess. Do you realize that? It’s an unbelievable, godawful, filthy mess. But in places like Mauritania (and Brazil, India, Pakistan and Thailand) it appears that the mess is a little bit filthier than most other places with regard to the state of the family, women’s rights and other related/ancillary issues–including the right to a divorce (and I use that term both in a metaphorical sense and in a literal sense.)

Mother and child in Mauritania

One of the most appalling issues that our generation faces (and one that I’ve only recently become aware of) is this issue of human trafficking and what it is doing to the family across the globe.

Did you know, quite seriously, that slavery is rampant in places like Mauritania, Brazil, India and many other countries in the world and that it is a billion dollar industry and that women and children are most often the victims? Do you know that these slaves, in places like Mauritania in particular, can’t get married if they choose; that in fact they get married and divorced at the behest and at the will of their slave owners? That they could lose custody of their children to said slave owners at the will of the slave owners — a disgraceful reality that is sanctioned not only by their government but also by the policies of our own country, the United States?

Whatever happened to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the UN Charter and all these international laws and treaties, customs, norms, etc, that we as a country have ratified and declared and made a part of our own laws? How can slavery exist in countries that are our “strategic allies” and our “friends?”

 It is unbelievable to me that the U.S. government knows that there is slavery being practiced in certain countries, like Mauritania and that we continue to support these countries and call them our friends, while they decimate families and literally take away the self-determination of entire generations of people, in plain view; and that they violate and exploit people –women and children in particular — and that we hold our noses and call them friends. We are complicit with this, as a country. And for what do we sell the souls of these people and destroy these families? Because the government of countries like Mauritania help us combat “terrorism.” It’s a hell of a trade off, isn’t it? Especially if you are Black in Mauritania.

Slavery in Mauritania, vis a vis slavery in other parts of the world, is very much like it was in the American south back in the 17th – 19th centuries. Entire generations of families – women, men and children – are born into slavery in Mauritania and go from cradle to grave as slaves. And so do their children. And this is happening as I write! The only difference is that the slave master is not European. He is what is called a “White Moor” which is another name for a North African Arab.  And the Moors seem to treat their slaves, for the most part, more humanely than the Europeans did theirs – not that makes the horror of what they are doing any less deplorable. There are human rights violations and there is cruelty and there is disruption to the family.
Slaves are only allowed to marry at the will of their Moor slave master. They can be forced to get a divorce. They can arbitrarily lose custody of their children. Just read Disposable People:New Slavery in the Global Economy by Kevin Bales and you will be outraged, or at a minimum, stunned by what is going on in Mauritania and these other countries around the world where various forms of slavery are practiced; and the fact that our government here in the U.S. practices a form of realpolitik that looks the other way when these countries blatantly derogate from laws which the international community said are inderogable.
I mean, what kind of hypocrisy is this? 
Why isn’t anyone doing anything about this? Whatever happened to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights along with the UN Charter, and the entire International Bill of Human Rights in general (inclusive of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights and the two protocols and the International Covenant of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights)?
Is this all lip service???
I mean, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights absolutely and explicitly forbids slavery. The International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights explicitly recognizes the right of the family to exist. (And it also recognize the right to parties in a divorce action to be treated fairly, and for the rights of children to be recognized by both the state and their parents as individual human beings who are individually entitled to human rights.)
This is what the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights says about the family (and this is treaty law that the U.S. ratified, btw, and to which it is bound):

The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to the protectiion by society and the state
The right of men and women of marriageable age to marry and to found a family shall be RECOGNIZED.
Now Marriage shall be entered into without the free and full consent of the intending spouses.
States Parties to the present Covenant shall take appropriate steps to ensure equality of rights and responsibilities of spouses as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolutions [divorce].
In the case of dissolution [divorce] provision shall be made for the necessary protection of any children.
Every child shall have, without any discrimination as to race, colour, sex, language, religion, national or social origin, property or birth, the right to such measures of protection as are required to his status as a minor, on the part of his family, society and the state.
Every child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have a name.
Every child has the right to acquire a nationality.

Plus, we have the Universal Declaration of Human rights which forbids slavery; and when you couple that with the express prohibition against slavery in the ICCPR which America ratified, how can we turn around and befriend a country like Mauritania and give them aid and consider them “allies” when they enslave people as a matter of government policy?  Are you serious?
This is too much for me to understand. This makes me shake my head in hopeless despair. It’s too much.
I think the time has come for an International Divorce and Family Law Commission that will be an institution within the UN that is charged with looking into this issue of the family and the rights of peoples around the world to have a family, choose a family, exist as a family and to be free from institutional slavery that effectivly DESTROYS FAMILIES; and to have self determination and all the things we signed off on, as a country and world, and ratified in treaties, and that were made a part of established international jurisprudence — the peremptory norms and customs.
Or just rip up the treaties because they are not worth the paper they are written on.
And yes, people should not only have the right to choose their family, they should also have the right to a divorce (if they want it) and the commission should be charged with making sure that right is protected. After all, that is what we said we stood for when we ratified the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
And we should start with Mauritania. Since that country seems to be the most blatant offender, at least that I am aware of. Give the people of Mauritania their human rights. They have a right to marry, live, build a family, get divorced (if they choose) according to their own free will, to be free, to self-determine. America, we of all countries should stop doing business with a government that takes away their citizen’s human rights and enslaves people. As their “ally” we are effectively the upholders of this conduct; and we are really vicariously endorsing slavery which is a violation of fundamental jus cogens rights that every human being is entitled to, pursuant to natural law and even positivist law. Just because it is happening off our shores is no excuse, America. It’s called respondeat superior. As far as I’m concerned, we have the blood of the Mauritanian slaves on our hands if we continue to do business with the government of this country.
Image http://www.flickr.com/photos/lujide/3390218743/sizes/m/in/photostream/