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Crimes Against Humanity: The Struggle for Global Justice, Revised and Updated Edition Paperback – January 31, 2007

ISBN-13: 978-1595580719 ISBN-10: 1595580719 Edition: Third Edition

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 800 pages
  • Publisher: New Press; Third Edition edition (January 31, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595580719
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595580719
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.2 x 1.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,067,772 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers 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 sidesAand 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 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From 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.DZachary T. Irwin, Behrend Coll., Pennsylvania State Univ., Erie
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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At its best, Crimes against Humanity is a cleverly argued case for the rule of law in international relations.
Alex Stephens
I bought this book for my university class, but I doubt we will get through it in our class, so I plan on reading it on my own, too.
Olya
Robertson does an excellent job of assembling, organizing, and presenting an extremely complex body of knowledge.
Ralph A. Weisheit

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Ralph A. Weisheit on April 19, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Geoffrey Robertson's "Crimes Against Humanity" is a thoughtful and thorough analysis of modern attempts at global justice. I have struggled with this issue for some time and have found most books of little help, perhaps because the amount of material to be digested is so substantial. Robertson does an excellent job of assembling, organizing, and presenting an extremely complex body of knowledge. There are many books on individual topics covered here and some readers would no doubt like their pet topics to have been discussed in more detail. The beauty of the book, however, is not in its detailed coverage of any single issue, but in it ability to integrate a large number of topics (e.g., the Lieber Code, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,The Geneva Conventions, Nuremberg, Truth Commissions, International Criminal Court, etc.). The author is able to show how these various issues are connected in a string of advances toward a global system of human rights -- advances that are admittedly glacial in their pace but advances nonetheless. Anyone who has tried to organize this vast body of knowledge can appreciate what Robertson has accomplshed. A fine companion to this book is Samantha Power's book "A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide." Taken together, these two books will take the reader a long way toward understanding international efforts at global justice.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Thomas O'Connor on March 6, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Now in its third edition, this mainstay textbook on the subject just keeps getting bigger, and one might say better. Whereas in earlier editions, the author was known to write in a somewhat dry, analytical tone, with some excellent categorical or structural analysis, I might add, the tone is now almost conversational, with the author telling "the story of human rights." The "story" pervades the first five or six chapters, and consists of little snippets or witty comments lamenting the fact that someone didn't do this or that. The meaty stuff includes chapter 8 (the Pinochet case), chapter 9 (the Milosvic case), chapter 11 (Kosovo), and chapter 13 (the last chapter, on Saddam Hussein). There is only one chapter on terrorism (12) and it's mostly devoted to the Guantanamo Bay issue. Overall, the book may be essential reading, and it does make the complex simple, but it is an overview book and the kind of thing which is sufficient only for beginners because there are lots of areas where the reader might want to do some more research and all they are given are little snippets or emotive hints of something.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By andahornet@yahoo.com on May 8, 2000
Format: Hardcover
A thoroughly enjoyable book. Excellent for someone who has basic knowledge of international and human rights law and who wishes to see things from a different perspective.
As a law student I found this book to be pleasantly refreshing when compared with the usual mind-numbing textbooks on international law. There are only two relatively negative things I can say about this book. Having read through this book a couple of times I found that it feels somewhat rushed, and also there is a tendency to make sweeping statements in places.
Yet overall I loved this book from page one and it really is easy to read yet makes you think. Highly recommended for anyone who wishes to know more about the practical side of international and human rights law, and also specifically for law students, because this is a book that tells you some things that are not even mentioned in your law course. I particularly loved Geoffrey's dry humour which pervades this book.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By SCSF on September 11, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Geoffrey Robertson is a passionate advocate of human rights - and (possibly paradoxically) of the ability to affect them within the system/s in which we try to enforce them. This book makes no claim to be a perfect history, but knowing Robertson's experience, we are better to hear his opinion and understanding than a dry history of the progress of human rights law itself. If you love this book, good. If you hate it, good. The idea is to make you think about it... and that is what Robertson is best at. This may be the only law history book you will ever read which will make you laugh and cry - occasionally at the same time. I read some other reviews of this and am saddened at their negativity - Robertson has personal experience most "experts" never have, and combines that with a wicked wit, enormous intelligence and a humanitarian heart. This is some book, and Geoffrey Robertson is some man - read whatever you can of his.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By GRAEME DRYSDALE on August 4, 2013
Format: Paperback
Geoffrey Robertson, Crimes Against Humanity, New Edition, Penguin Books, 2006

Geoffrey Robertson's books are essential reading for anyone concerned with international justice, and Crimes Against Humanity is another important volume in what is already an enviable and indispensable legacy.

But ...

... there are a few oversights and historically questionable sections that Mr Robertson and his editors need to be a little more judicious over.

Whilst the following do not undermine the validity or veracity of Robertson's book, if it is going to become a standard, a classic text, he needs to be a little more diligent in some of his assertions and also to acknowledge the state of modern historical analysis.

Three times Robertson refers to Burma's Nobel laureate Aung Sun Suu Kyi as the "elected leader detained by military despots", the "democratically elected leader", and the "democratic leader"; pp. 193, 370, 614 respectively. Not until a 2012 by-election saw did Ms Kyi stand for election and subsequently win a seat in parliament. In early 1990, During her first attempt at standing for election, SLORC (State Law and Order Restoration Council ) invalidated Aung Sun Suu Kyi's candidacy in the then forthcoming elections; and whilst Ms Kyi herself was prevented from standing her party, the National League for Democracy, won 392 seats out of a total of 485 seats in the Burmese parliament; Ms Kyi's late husband, the incredibly supportive Michael Aris, wrote in his introduction to his wife's autobiography, that "Contrary to expectations, the polling was totally free and fair". It's painfully obvious that SLORC did not approve of the result, and the consequences were horrific.
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