Cover image for Crimes against humanity : the struggle for global justice
Crimes against humanity : the struggle for global justice
Robertson, Geoffrey.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : New Press : Distributed by W.W. Norton, 2000.
Physical Description:
xxxiv, 553 pages ; 24 cm
General Note:
Previous ed. published: London : Allen Lane, 1999.
Format :


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K5301 .R63 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Among other accomplishments, British barrister Robertson has appeared as counsel in many landmark human-rights cases, and he conducted missions for Amnesty International to South Africa and Vietnam during the 1980s. Here he identifies a shift from diplomacy to law as the crucial post-Cold War development in the world's efforts on behalf of human rights, and he writes authoritatively about history, the current situation in various parts of the world, and prospects for the future. Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, provides an introduction. The book was originally published in the UK (1999, Allen Lane, The Penguin Press). Distributed by W.W. Norton. Annotation copyrighted by Book News, Inc., Portland, OR

Author Notes

Geoffrey Robertson QC, is Head of Doughty Street Chambers, a Visiting Professor in Human Rights at Birkbeck College, and an executive member of Justice and a Master of the Middle Temple.
Kenneth Roth is the executive director of Human Rights Watch

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

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 sidesÄand 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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

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.DZachary T. Irwin, Behrend Coll., Pennsylvania State Univ., Erie (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Prefacep. xiii
Introductionp. xxiii
1 The Human Rights Storyp. 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 Worldp. 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 Humankindp. 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 Bluesp. 124
Freedom from Execution
Death Penalty Safeguards
Minority Rights
Indigenous Peoples
Economic and Social Rights
A Right to Democracy?
5 War Lawp. 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?p. 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 Nemesisp. 243
Into This Blackness
The Duty to Prosecute
The Limits of Amnesty
Truth Commissions and Transitional Justice
The Case for Retribution
8 The Balkan Trialsp. 285
Legal Basis of the Hague Tribunal
How the Tribunal Operates
The Tadic Case
Individual Responsibility
9 The International Criminal Courtp. 324
Rome 1998: The Statute
International Crimes
The Court
The Trial
The Future
10 The Case of General Pinochetp. 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 Humanityp. 401
The Right of Humanitarian Intervention
We Bombed in Kosovo
Just War
The Case of East Timor
Epiloguep. 437
Notesp. 455
A Human Rights in Historyp. 479
B Universal Declaration of Human Rightsp. 485
C Ratifications of UN Human Rights Conventionsp. 494
D Excerpts from the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Courtp. 496
E Excerpts from the Charter of the United Nationsp. 506
Indexp. 513