Crimes Against Humanity: The Struggle for Global Justice


When it was first published in 1999, Crimes Against Humanity called for a radical shift from diplomacy to justice in international affairs. In vivid, non-legalese prose, leading human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson made a riveting case for holding political and military leaders accountable in international courts for genocide, torture, and mass murder.

Since then, fearsome figures such as Charles Taylor, Laurent Gbagbo, and Ratko Mladic have been tried in international ...

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Crimes Against Humanity: The Struggle for Global Justice

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When it was first published in 1999, Crimes Against Humanity called for a radical shift from diplomacy to justice in international affairs. In vivid, non-legalese prose, leading human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson made a riveting case for holding political and military leaders accountable in international courts for genocide, torture, and mass murder.

Since then, fearsome figures such as Charles Taylor, Laurent Gbagbo, and Ratko Mladic have been tried in international criminal court, and a global movement has rallied around the human rights framework of justice. Any such legal framework requires constant evolution in order to stay relevant, and this newly revised and expanded volume brings the conversation up to date. In substantial new chapters, Robertson covers the protection of war correspondents, the problem of piracy, crimes against humanity in Syria, nuclear armament in Iran, and other challenges we are grappling with today. He criticizes the Obama administration’s policies around “targeted killing” and the trials of Khalid Sheik Mohammed and other “high value” detainees. By rendering a complex debate accessible, Robertson once again provides an essential guide for anyone looking to understand human rights and how to work toward a more complete blueprint for justice.

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Editorial Reviews

An epic work.
Literary Review
A fine work, scholarly and impassioned.
Journal of the Law Society
Accurate, gripping.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A British lawyer long involved in human rights observations and tribunals, Robinson writes of the history and the contemporary politics of international human rights. He devotes a chapter each to the history of human rights law; the case of General Pinochet; the "Guernica Paradox" (that is, bombing in the service of human rights); the International Court; and recent events in the Balkans, East Timor, Latin America and the U.S. An unabashed supporter of international military intervention, Robinson puts individuals' rights above the right of national sovereignty. Passionate almost to a fault, he occasionally even argues that morality, the defense of human rights, should supersede the rule of international law. To his credit, he is consistently willing to criticize all sides--and he does criticize the U.S. Congress (for what he says is its occasional desire to place U.S. interests above international human rights), U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan (for what Robinson considers his occasional incompetence) and anyone who'd excuse human rights violations in the name of cultural relativism. The author's disgust with the U.N.'s inaction leads him to propose that the human rights community form a separate organization to deal with the issue. At times, Robinson's intense focus on law may blind him to important holes in his argument. But overall, this is an erudite book that adds sophistication to the debate on a crucial subject. (Aug.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
The author, a distinguished British barrister, has written a complex and demanding account of the developing regime of international human rights. Specifically, he focuses on the "struggle" (as the subtitle says) to hold accountable those who use state sovereignty as an exculpatory defense of government acts of repression, torture, and genocide. He also explains the gradual transformation of the ideals of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights into domestic law through international covenants. Much of this task remains to be completed, and Robertson is not the first to comment on the significance of the Hague Tribunal concerning former Yugoslavia or even the recent case involving Chilean dictator General Augusto Pinochet. Nevertheless, his account is told with abundant detail, rigorous analysis, and tenacious advocacy. Robertson is especially critical of the Pentagon for opposing recent efforts to create an effective international criminal court and the right-wing advisers of Gen. Douglas MacArthur for preventing a trial of Japanese Emperor Hirohito. This book balances an optimistic prognosis for the recognition of human rights with an acknowledgment that no leadership of a major power will likely be held accountable for their violation. Recommended for academic and larger public libraries.--Zachary T. Irwin, Behrend Coll., Pennsylvania State Univ., Erie Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781595588609
  • Publisher: New Press, The
  • Publication date: 2/5/2013
  • Edition description: Fourth Edition
  • Edition number: 4
  • Pages: 864
  • Sales rank: 1,511,807
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.70 (h) x 2.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Geoffrey Robertson was the first president of the Sierra Leone Special Court (which indicted Charles Taylor) and has delivered important rulings on the illegality of recruiting child soldiers and the invalidity of amnesties. He was appointed as a distinguished jurist member of the UN’s Justice Council in 2008, and he acted for Human Rights Watch in the Pinochet case. His clients have ranged from Salman Rushdie to Mike Tyson, and he is currently defending Julian Assange. Robertson lives in London.
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Table of Contents

1 The Human Rights Story 1
In the Beginning: Natural Rights
Revolutions and Declarations
The Nineteenth Century: Bentham, Marx and the Humanitarian Impulse
Between Wars: The League of Nations and Stalin's Show Trials
H. G. Wells: What are We Fighting For?
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
2 The Post-war World 35
1946-76: Thirty Inglorious Years
The Human Rights Commission: A Permanent Failure?
The Civil Covenant and Its Human Rights Committee
Some Enforcement at Last: The European Convention, and Other Regions
Realpolitik Rules OK
The Srebrenica Question
3 The Rights of Humankind 80
Making Human Rights Rule: The International Law Paradox
The Statute of Liberty
Safety of the Person
Individual Freedoms
The Right to Fairness
Peaceful Enjoyment of Property
4 Twenty-first Century Blues 124
Freedom from Execution
Death Penalty Safeguards
Minority Rights
Indigenous Peoples
Economic and Social Rights
A Right to Democracy?
5 War Law 167
In Search of the Just War
The Geneva Conventions
Good Conventions: Chemical, Nuclear and Conventional Weapons, and Land Mines
The Dogs of War
6 An End to Impunity? 203
The Nuremberg Legacy
International Criminals: Pirates, Slavers and Kaisers
The Nazi Leaders: Summary Execution?
The Trial
Judgment Day
Victor's Justice?
Towards Universal Jurisdiction (Genocide, Torture, Apartheid)
7 Slouching Towards Nemesis 243
Into This Blackness
The Duty to Prosecute
The Limits of Amnesty
Truth Commissions and Transitional Justice
The Case for Retribution
8 The Balkan Trials 285
Legal Basis of the Hague Tribunal
How the Tribunal Operates
The Tadic Case
Individual Responsibility
9 The International Criminal Court 324
Rome 1998: The Statute
International Crimes
The Court
The Trial
The Future
10 The Case of General Pinochet 368
An Arrest in Harley Street
The State in International Law
Sovereign Immunity
Bring On the Diplomats
The Law Takes Its Course
11 The Guernica Paradox: Bombing for Humanity 401
The Right of Humanitarian Intervention
We Bombed in Kosovo
Just War
The Case of East Timor
Epilogue 437
Notes 455
App. A Human Rights in History 479
App. B Universal Declaration of Human Rights 485
App. C Ratifications of UN Human Rights Conventions 494
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