Geoffrey Roberton QC is one of the world’s most famous barristers – certainly Australia’s most famous – but the flamboyant 74 year old has tired of the challenges facing international law and its lack of effectiveness.
In a profile piece reported in TheSaturdayPaper (registration required), Robertson lambasted the
Geoffrey Robertson, born in the Sydney suburbs, has won landmark human rights and other rulings in the highest courts in Britain, Europe and in the Commonweath, representing usuch high profile clients as Julian Assange, Salman Rushdie, The Sex Pistols, Mike Tyson and the Armenian government. He is also famous for his high profile television programme, ‘Geoffrey Robertson’s Hypotheticals’.
As if all of that is not enough, he also co-founded and headed Doughty Street Chambers, the largest human rights chambers in the UK, from which equally famous Amal Clooney sits, as well as acting as visiting professor in human rights law at Queen Mary College, London.
His leading role as a human rights lawyer may not been one that appeared apparent when growing up in Australia, although there were many Australian issues that saw him angered by injustice issues that arose.
He had soon become a pro bono lawyer representing those who faced the noose in a variety of Commonwealth countries, working to develop international standards to get the clients off death row.
Now, however, he is less than impressed with the way human rights laws have progressed – or failed to progress.
The 21st century has blunted the optimism of human rights activists and lawyers like Geoffrey Robertson. His latest book, his 19th, is an attempt to find a solution to the less-than-successful human rights record established by the international community, which now includes such genocidal reports as that seen in Myanmar and in China with the Uighur oppression.
His book, ‘Bad People and How To Be Rid of Them’ looks at how to deal with the conundrum of squaring international ethics with a world made up of nation states that have seen the UN remove the ability to deal with atrocities and human rights outrages.
But Geoffrey Robertson has not intention to reduce his efforts to secure justice for his clients. The battles continue and he is more than willing to pick up the pro bono cudgels to battle for them – it’s just more difficult in the current global climate.