SOAS University of London

Centre of South East Asian Studies

The Democratic Crisis in Thailand

Robert Amsterdam
Mr. Robert Amsterdam (founder and principal of Amsterdam & Partners LLP)

Date: 27 March 2014Time: 3:00 PM

Finishes: 27 March 2014Time: 5:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: Kamran DJAM Lecture Theatre (Formerly G2)

Type of Event: Lecture

Mr Amsterdam will discuss the current political situation in Thailand, the tensions at play between the elite and the people, the rule of law and its worrying tendency downwards.  


Robert Amsterdam is founding partner of the international law firm Amsterdam & Partners LLP, with offices in London, United Kingdom and Washington, DC. Over the course of his 33-year career, Mr. Amsterdam has represented high-profile clients in commercial, corporate, and political cases in a variety of countries. The firm boasts a strong track record in countries facing rule of law challenges, offering a unique multi-disciplinary approach to complex issues. The firm is experienced in managing, litigating and arbitrating disputes around the world, with a history of putting together “virtual firms” of the best minds in their fields to handle disputes and crises under the best possible representation within the context of both local and international laws.

Past clients have included the Four Seasons Hotel & Resorts Group, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and numerous mining and energy companies operating in emerging markets. In 2003, Mr. Amsterdam was retained by Amnesty International-recognized prisoner of conscience Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who was once Russia’s most prominent oil executive, to defend him against political persecution by the Russian government. In 2008, he joined the defense team for Eligio Cedeño, a businessman and political prisoner in Venezuela who was later successfully released into freedom. Mr. Amsterdam serves as counsel to prominent opposition leaders such as Dr. Chee Soon Juan in Singapore. In 2010 he was appointed by the former Prime Minister of Thailand Thaksin Shinawatra to defend members of the Red Shirt pro-democracy movement. In 2013, he was retained by the Internet mogul Kim Dotcom.

Mr. Amsterdam represents former President of Zambia Rupiah Banda and his son Henry, with respect to unlawful harassment and persecution by the new government. In Nigeria, Mr. Amsterdam has represented prominent public figures, having developed an extensive network of political and business leaders that dates back more than three decades. Among other notables, he has acted for the former Executive Director of Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), as well as the former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory in Abuja. In early 2013, Mr. Amsterdam won a landmark decision before the United Nations Dispute Tribunal on behalf of a pro-bono client, Dr. Georges Tadonki, whose contract with UNOCHA was not renewed due to political events related to Zimbabwe.

As a prolific columnist and blogger, Amsterdam’s writings have been published in the International Herald Tribune, the Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and the Fordham International Law Journal, among other publications. He has delivered keynote speeches for groups such as Chatham House, University College of London, Cato Institute, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and numerous energy, mining, and international investment conferences Amsterdam has made several television appearances on networks such as CNN, CNBC, Bloomberg, BBC, and Fox News. He was nominated to the “Hot 100” by the UK publication The Lawyer, and was named “Lawyer of the Week” by the Times of London, and was most recently profiled in the U.S magazine The American Lawyer.

The firm’s members and employees are aggressive advocates for the rule of law and freedom of expression. Mr. Amsterdam has been engaged in ongoing assistance to a series of political prisoners and opposition political parties for many years. According to the former British Ambassador to Russia Andrew Wood, “The word that best describes Bob is courage, both moral and actual. He raises questions that are not always welcome, and that is often the proper business of a lawyer.”

Amsterdam is a member of the Canadian and International Bar Associations, and is licensed as a solicitor in the United Kingdom. He earned his BA from Carleton University in Ottawa, and studied law at Queen’s University in Ontario (LLB).

Organiser: Centres & Programmes Office

Contact email:

Contact Tel: +44 (0)20 7898 4893