978-0-7139-9197-0 / 9780713991970

Crimes Against Humanity: The Struggle for Global Justice


Publisher:Viking UK



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About the book:

The Kosovo intervention and the extradition process against General Pinochet have helped write effectively into the books of International Law an idea that for a long time the self-interest of most states excluded: the idea that there are crimes against humanity and that action against those takes precedence over national sovereignty and most standard international agreements. Geoffrey Robertson is distinguished as a defence lawyer, and Crimes Against Humanity is a stunning indictment of the traditional toleration of inhumanity for the sake of a quiet international life which almost makes one glad that he never prosecutes. His ruthless forensic anger is as impressive as his grasp of the history of ideas:

"Human rights were said, in the fin-de-siecle buzzphrase, to be "culturally relative"--by such statesmen as Dr. Mahartir (who found an independent judiciary inconvenient to his own aspirations in Malaysia) and President Suharto (the incarnation of nepotistic corruption)... The championship of "Asian values" has weakened with Asian economies, and in 1998 Dr. Mahartir's behaviour... made many of his countrymen protest in favour of old-fashioned Western values... The idea of human rights was in the ascendant; the stage was set for their third historical period: the age of enforcement".

Starting from the formulation of the idea of rights and moving expeditiously through the Nuremburg trials and the elevation of rights to a stronger position as a way of creating a context for those trials other than mere victor's justice, he describes the gradual formulation of rights and ways of enforcing them while being quite clear of the hypocrisy of many of those involved. Law and justice, however, are of greater importance to Robertson than the men and states who make them; this is an impressive account which combines liberalism with realism. -- Roz Kaveney

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