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Amal Clooney, Geoffrey Robertson and Bill Browder on a Plan B for Human Rights

Three leading figures in the fight for human rights discuss a way forward for the global justice movement

Geoffrey Robertson QC is one of Britain’s leading human rights champions. Twenty years ago he helped fuel the global justice movement with his ground-breaking book Crimes Against Humanity. In April 2021, alongside fellow human rights lawyer Amal Clooney and campaigner Bill Browder, he took part in a special Intelligence Squared online event in partnership with Doughty Street Chambers to set out what he calls his ‘plan B for human rights’. This would involve countries introducing and enforcing fresh laws to name, blame and shame human rights abusers, stripping them of their right to enter democratic nations, of the ill-gotten funds they seek to deposit in global banks, and barring them and their families from schools and hospitals in these countries.

Expanding on the themes of his new book Bad People And How To Be Rid Of Them, Robertson makes the case for a group of laws known as Magnitsky legislation after Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer who died in a Russian jail after exposing state corruption. Early versions of these laws have already been introduced in Britain, the US and Canada. As Robertson argues, the Magnitsky movement offers an effective way to punish people who have committed crimes against humanity, whether in America, Russia, China or Belarus. Good people, he urges, need to fight for them – in their own countries and elsewhere in the world.

As nationalism strengthens its grip across the world and governments retreat from international courts and refuse to comply with their rulings, urgent action is needed. These three leading figures in the fight for human rights discussed a way forward for the global justice movement in the twenty-first century.



Geoffrey Robertson QC

Human rights barrister, academic, author and broadcaster

Human rights barrister, academic, author and broadcaster. 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. In 2011 he received the New York Bar Association’s Award for Distinction in International Law and Affairs, and in 2018 he was awarded the Order of Australia for services to human rights. His books include Crimes Against Humanity: The Struggle for Global Justice, an autobiography, Rather His Own Man: In Court with Tyrants, Tarts and Troublemakers, and Who Owns History? Elgin’s Loot and the Case for Returning Plundered Treasure.

William Browder

CEO of Hermitage Capital Management and Head of the Global Magnitsky Justice Campaign

CEO of Hermitage Capital Management and Head of the Global Magnitsky Justice Campaign. He was the largest foreign investor in Russia until 2005, when he was denied entry to the country and declared ‘a threat to national security’ for exposing corruption in Russian state-owned companies. In 2008, Browder’s lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, uncovered a massive fraud committed by Russian government officials that involved the theft of US $230 million of state taxes. Sergei testified against state officials involved in this fraud and was subsequently arrested, imprisoned without trial and tortured. He spent a year in prison, was repeatedly denied medical treatment, and died in prison in November 2009. Since then, Mr. Browder has sought justice outside Russia and started a global campaign for governments around the world to impose targeted visa bans and asset freezes on human rights abusers and highly corrupt officials.

Amal Clooney

Barrister who specialises in international law and human rights.

Barrister who specialises in international law and human rights. She represents victims of human rights violations in national and international courts and has appeared in cases before the International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Court and the European Court of Human Rights. She currently represents Yazidi victims of genocide in national courts including in the first genocide case against an ISIS member. She represents over one hundred Sudanese victims of crimes committed by Janjaweed leader Ali Kushayb who faces trial before the International Criminal Court. And she represents a state in one of the most ground-breaking cases before the International Court of Justice alleging that Myanmar is responsible for the crime of genocide against the Rohingya people. She has also helped to secure freedom for political prisoners around the world including journalists and opposition figures. She is a visiting Professor at Columbia Law School and co-founder of the Clooney Foundation for Justice.