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Crimes Against Humanity: The Struggle for Global Justice Paperback – 2 Mar 2002


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Product details

  • Paperback: 688 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; 2nd Revised edition edition (2 Mar 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141010142
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141010144
  • Product Dimensions: 21 x 2.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,247,683 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

On 24 March 1999, the English law lords delivered their final verdict on the General Pinochet case, and coincidentally NATO started bombing Serbia from the air. These qualified successes, despite equivocal legality, showed a tide-turn in the momentum of the struggle against the perpetrators of crimes against humanity, be they individuals or states. Geoffrey Robertson, an advocate of human rights for many years, devotes the first half of this persuasive and forthright book to the history of human rights thinking until the pivotal Nuremberg Charter of 1945, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, and the recent development of international law to govern them. He marshals his arguments with the tenacious verve and immutable confidence one expects from his profession, and the hi-octane polemic allows little space for the refuge of uncertainty, and indeed prompts the occasional speculation that you're being sold a rotten piece of fruit hidden among the ripe. The more satisfying second half focuses on familiar troublespots of the last decade or so, particularly Kosovo, as well as the wearying impotence of the United Nations, and the establishment of necessarily cautious war crimes tribunals in The Hague and Arusha. Robertson has his favourites (HG Wells and Thomas Paine), and his bête noires (US senator Jesse Helms, Pinochet, cultural relativism), and it rankles considerably that the US, which sets itself up as a moral custodian, refuses to sign up for an International Criminal Court for fear of compromising its sovereignty. For all the choice rhetoric, without enforcement any notion of global justice is mere lip-service, and the conclusion Robertson reaches, as any good lawyer would, is that only a universally ratified international criminal court will turn pious words into effective action. The world is shrinking rapidly, and the last 10 years have seen human rights become a fashionable concern; important books like this allow little room for moral complacency, even while the soft shoe shuffle of diplomacy finally begins to give way to the march of justice. --David Vincent --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

'An essential guide for all those who want to understand the central role of human rights in law and politics today a formidable achievement' David Pannick QC, Evening Standard 'His arguments are exceptionally clear and comprehensible, and legal complexities are rendered into simple and lucid prose' Alasdair Palmer, Sunday Telegraph 'Millions will be reading his book in the century to come if we are serious in our intention to stop [these] massacres' Michael Foot, Observer

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First Sentence
Any system of law - including the first written Hammurabi code, several thousand years before Christ - inferentially confers 'rights' on the citizens to whom it applies, at least in the negative and residual sense of entitling them to behave in any manner which it does not specifically prohibit. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By "venator11" on 18 Sep 1999
Format: Hardcover
Robertson provides an erudite and provocative examination of the development of human rights theories and the haphazard attempts to secure them around the world. His message is simple: more needs to be done and part of that requires reform of the UN to make it more independent. He collates a variety of stories and policy failures that have a justified emotional impact on the reader, but his style remains objective and clear. This is a useful text for human rights activists but also students of political theory, ethics, and modern history. Highly recommendable.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Richard Gollin on 23 Nov 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the outstanding introduction to the world of human rights and war crimes. I need not add much here. Robertson is is obviously an International War Crimes Court insider and pro the application of international law. But he is no starry eyed idealist. His section on the UN's dreadful record on human rights is totally blunt. His description of Belgian, Ghanaian and Dutch UN troop involvement in actually facilitating the genocide of those they were protecting in Ruanda and Bosnia is heartbreaking. He accepts criticism that war crime prosecution may seem to be restricted to losers of wars, Yugoslavians and Africans. But what makes the book so uplifting is the movement to the world gradually accepting the actual ideas of human rights and war crimes.

Can I have a quibble? Robertson is damning of those of us who wrote to the war crimes court complaining about Britain's involvement in the 'War Against Terror'.Like most of those who protested, I did not try and say the war was illegal. The possible grounds for complaint to the court are there for all to read, and I protested on the grounds of treatment of prisoners, then being ferried through Scottish airports in unmarked CIA jets and, with our government's knowledge, being tortured. The reply from the court was very interesting. Did I really expect the court to arrest the leaders of the UK, one of the most powerful countries in the world? My answer was 'Yes' and that the court should give equal treatment to all. After all the European Court of Human Rights does not mollycoddle any of its members. Otherwise we would still have the tawse (cat of nine tails) in Scottish schools...
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 22 Jan 2002
Format: Paperback
I did a Diploma in International Relations which included International Law. I wish I had read this book to aid me in my Thesis on Human Rights.
The book is written well enough for anyone to pick it up and understand Human Rights Laws without a good understanding of law.
I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in International Human Rights, especially with the current violations of Human Rights across the globe.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Fabulous book of over 800 pages(do not get it via a kindle) which was my first mistake. I felt that it was well worth getting the most recent update(he updates every 4 years). Geoffrey explains clearly the development of international law and in clear defined chapters explains both the legal and political factors that impact. I discovered this book by going through references in the back of another law book, and I am so very glad that I did.
I found the chapter on General Pinochet very helpful for an essay that I was writing.The political background was explained along with why the judgements were made and why there were 3 trials of Pinochet.
I shall read all of his books now.
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By Lucy Louise Kelly on 23 July 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
didn't really like the book
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