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For the Love of Humanity
The World Tribunal on Iraq

Ayça Çubukçu

240 pages | 6 x 9 | 7 illus.
Cloth 2018 | ISBN 9780812250503 | $65.00s | Outside the Americas £52.00
Paper Mar 2022 | ISBN 9780812225235 | $24.95s | Outside the Americas £18.99
Ebook editions are available from selected online vendors
A volume in the series Pennsylvania Studies in Human Rights
View table of contents and excerpt

"[A] remarkable account of the World Tribunal on Iraq (WTI) . . . For the Love of Humanity, conveys the complexity of both the WTI's endeavor and the universalist ideals that continue to engender humanitarian, cosmopolitan, rights-based, and imperialist moral-political projects around the world."—Political and Legal Anthropology Review

"Part of what makes this book so impressive is that its radical vision is sustained and deepened by sophisticated reference to the ideas of many of the leading European political philosophers of the last 100 years and by a social science methodology that relies on an ethnographic record compiled by a participant observer who doubles as author. This fine, memorable book possesses a theoretical and practical significance that extends well beyond the confines of the World Tribunal on Iraq experience."—London Review of International Law

"What is the legacy of the World Tribunal on Iraq (WTI)? How can "for the love of humanity" be understood when it is used for both imperialist and anti-war arguments? These issues are elegantly interrogated by Ayca Cubukcu,"—Middle East Journal

"This remarkable book about the World Tribunal on Iraq (set up shortly after the U.S. invasion by a multinational network of activists and scholars) is at once a valuable ethnography and a timely history of the present. It forces the reader to confront the conflicts between the legal and political perspectives that dominate our understanding of international affairs. For anyone concerned with global justice, For the Love of Humanity is essential—because thought-provoking—reading."—Talal Asad, The Graduate Center, City University of New York

"In this breakthrough ethnography of the World Tribunal on Iraq, Ayça Çubukçu raises new questions about the contemporary politics of human rights. She challenges the ease with which many hew to noble aspirations, as if crimes and mistakes in name of human rights were merely incidental perversions. Anyone concerned with the fate of cosmopolitanism in our era of the love of humanity and perpetual war must read this book."—Samuel Moyn, author of Not Enough: Human Rights in an Unequal World

"Mixing ethnographic material on the conduct of the World Tribunal on Iraq with analysis grounded in political theory and international law, Ayça Çubukçu's outstanding book offers thought-provoking arguments alongside first-hand reflections on the WTI's deliberations."—Stephen Hopgood, University of London

On February 15, 2003, millions of people around the world demonstrated against the war that the United States, the United Kingdom, and their allies were planning to wage in Iraq. Despite this being the largest protest in the history of humankind, the war on Iraq began the next month. That year, the World Tribunal on Iraq (WTI) emerged from the global antiwar movement that had mobilized against the invasion and subsequent occupation. Like the earlier tribunal on Vietnam convened by Bertrand Russell and Jean-Paul Sartre, the WTI sought to document—and provide grounds for adjudicating—war crimes committed by the United States, the United Kingdom, and their allied forces during the Iraq war.

For the Love of Humanity builds on two years of transnational fieldwork within the decentralized network of antiwar activists who constituted the WTI in some twenty cities around the world. Ayça Çubukçu illuminates the tribunal up close, both as an ethnographer and a sympathetic participant. In the process, she situates debates among WTI activists—a group encompassing scholars, lawyers, students, translators, writers, teachers, and more—alongside key jurists, theorists, and critics of global democracy.

WTI activists confronted many dilemmas as they conducted their political arguments and actions, often facing interpretations of human rights and international law that, unlike their own, were not grounded in anti-imperialism. Çubukçu approaches this conflict by broadening her lens, incorporating insights into how Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the Iraqi High Tribunal grappled with the realities of Iraq's occupation. Through critical analysis of the global debate surrounding one of the early twenty-first century's most significant world events, For the Love of Humanity addresses the challenges of forging global solidarity against imperialism and makes a case for reevaluating the relationships between law and violence, empire and human rights, and cosmopolitan authority and political autonomy.

Ayça Çubukçu is Associate Professor in Human Rights at the London School of Economics and Codirector of LSE Human Rights.

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