As Albert Einstein once penetratingly observed, "Problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them." Such is the case when examining modern slavery and the role slavery plays in the global economy. The complexities and injustices of today's world require comprehensive, transnational analyses that transcend political, economic, and military boundaries. To understand the trends in contemporary slavery and how globalization breeds slavery, it is important to examine what factors lead to enslavement. The dramatic increase in the world's population coupled with limited economic activity leave many developing nations plagued by forms of contemporary slavery. Additionally, government corruption and armed conflict both contribute to enslavement in many parts of the world. This paper examines how political and military conflicts in Sierra Leone foster the recruitment/enslavement of child soldiers. .
What exactly constitutes slavery in the year 2002? Kevin Bales (2000), author of Disposable People and the leading expert on contemporary slavery, defines a slave as "a person held by violence or the threat of violence for economic exploitation" (280). This definition, due to its broad nature, easily applies to past forms of slavery, including that of the Atlantic Slave Trade. This definition also applies to contemporary slavery, though variations from region to region bespeak the needs of a transnational economy. For the first time in human history the combination of government corruption, the enormous population increase, and ongoing impoverishment has provided an excess of potential slaves. According to Bales (2000), "slaves are now so cheap that they have become cost-effective in many new kinds of work, completely changing how they are seen and used" (14). Bales (2000) coins these people as "disposable" because, unlike the slaves in the American South, buying a slave is no longer an investment (14).