Slavery-like practices are prohibited by the 1956 UN Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, the Slave Trade and Practices similar to Slavery. The Convention does not contain a definition of slavery, but does list a number of practices and institutions that constitute slavery-like practices such as debt bondage, serfdom, forced and early marriage, and the exploitation of children and adolescents.

Two common criteria can be derived from the listed examples: - the infringement of the formal or de-facto legal status of a person, resulting in a serious and far-reaching deprivation of fundamental rights, in combination with - the one-sided economic exploitation of the person through the abuse of long-term relations of dependency.