In This Review

Crimes Against Humanity: The Struggle for Global Justice
Crimes Against Humanity: The Struggle for Global Justice
By Geoffrey Robertson
New Press, 2000, 554 pp

A sweeping history of an emerging world legal system that redresses crimes against humanity, where the unfolding struggle is not between liberal and outlaw states but between state sovereignty and the global legal regime. The book first revisits historical turning points such as the Nuremberg trials and the U.N.'s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In Robertson's view, these early human rights victories failed to challenge the system of state sovereignty and therefore had little consequence. More recently, however, human rights law has made unprecedented progress, spurred by well-publicized atrocities in the Balkans, Rwanda, and elsewhere and signaled by the new International Criminal Court. The author predicts an emerging world system of justice in which individual rights will be enshrined in laws secured by both states and the world community. The political and historical forces driving these developments are not always made clear, but the international human rights movement and the global media's attention to states' abuses matter most to this author. Whereas Bass provides a more striking and coherent account, Robertson offers a useful guide to the wider legal struggle.