“Pure Wickedness”: Bertrand Russell and the People’s Tribunal

Bertrand Russell
Bertrand Russell, 1957 (© WikiCommons/Anefo)

What happens when you set up a court without a judge or a real prosecution or a proper defence or even an actual jury? What happens when you fill that room instead with concerned citizens? Some might call it irrelevant ? Others might call it the basis for a legal trial.

The British philosopher Bertrand Russell established the first international people’s tribunal almost 40 years ago to gather evidence on war crimes committed by the United States and its allies during the Vietnam War. The model was recently revived in Belgium, where current U.S. foreign policy was on trial.

Have a listen. You be the judge. 

Producer: Michele Ernsting

Broadcast: 2004