Michel Erpelding holds a Ph.D. in international law from Sorbonne Law School (Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, France). His thesis is entitled ‘The International Anti-Slavery Law of “Civilized Nations”, 1815-1945’. It is based on a systematic review of both state practice (including more than 300 treaties, numerous pieces of domestic and colonial legislation, court rulings, as well as archival documents) and scholarly writings in four languages (French, English, German, Italian). It shows how Western States invoked the notion of ‘civilization’ in order to create international legal obligations regarding the suppression of slavery-related practices, and how they subsequently defined these obligations so as to further their own imperial interests. In particular, it shows how colonial powers tried to use the public/private divide to condemn slavery (including wartime enslavement practiced by African polities recognized as subjects of international law) while legitimizing forced labour (which generally did not serve the public interest of local communities, but the private interests of European settlers and companies). Michel also holds master’s degrees in international law from Sorbonne Law School and Columbia University and a bachelor’s degree in modern standard Arabic from the Institut national des Langues et Civilisations Orientales in Paris (France). Since 2013, he has worked as a sessional lecturer in French public law at the Institut du droit des affaires internationales (part of Sorbonne Law School) in Cairo (Egypt). His research interests include general public international law, international legal history, colonial law, humanitarian law and international human rights law.
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