The Trial of Vladimir Putin

Biteback Publishing
Geoffrey Robertson QC
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There have been dozens of books about the Russian President since he launched his illegal invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Some have examined the historical aspects of the conflict, others have analysed its military and geopolitical importance. However, none so far have looked purely at the legal consequences of that disastrous action.

This remarkable survey by one of our most celebrated human rights lawyers examines how the war in effect destroys the purpose of the UN by exposing the fatal flaw in its 1945 Charter which entrusts the duty to five permanent members with a veto on any Security Council action. Russia may not even be expelled for breaching the Charter from the General Assembly without a Security Council recommendation, which Russia itself can veto!

It looks at the difficulties of bringing Putin to trial, and why the popular campaign for a court to try him in absentia would not work; gives an explanation of the ICC charges he already faces, and surmises that any future peace agreement would include an amnesty for Putin (though, that amnesty would not be valid in international law).

Putin is plainly guilty of the crime of aggression. But, asks Robertson, does the Bush doctrine of ‘Pre-emptive self-defence’, developed to justify his invasion of Iraq, provide Putin with an opt-out; and could the ‘Tu Quoque’ defence (‘I did it, but you did it first’) be raised at Putin’s trial, as it was for Admiral Doenitz at Nuremberg?

This brilliant deep-dive into international law offers a unique perspective onto an unjust war that has cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of people and threatens to overturn the accepted world order, through the lens of its key protagonist.

Contributor Bio

GEOFFREY ROBERTSON QC has had a distinguished career as a trial and appellate counsel in Britain and in international courts, and as a UN appeal judge, the first president of its war crimes court in Sierra Leone. He is founder and joint head of Doughty Street Chambers, Europe’s largest human rights practice, a master of the Middle Temple and a former trustee of the Institute of Contemporary Arts. His book Crimes Against Humanity: The Struggle for Global Justice has been an inspiration for the global justice movement, and in 2011 he received the New York Bar Association’s Award for Distinction in International Law and Affairs. In 2018, he was awarded the Order of Australia for services to human rights. His autobiography, Rather His Own Man: In Court with Tyrants, Tarts and Troublemakers, was published by Biteback (UK) and Penguin Random House (Australia) in 2018.