Philippe Sands

AS spring 2017 sandsApproximately three-quarters of a century ago, it was inconceivable for anyone to think that Germany was not well within its legal right to tell the League of Nations, as Joseph Goebbels did in 1933, that it can “deal as we see fit” with our “opponents,” and in particular, “our Jews.”

Inconceivable, because the twin concepts of crimes against humanity and genocide – now considered among the bedrocks of international human rights law — had yet to be conceived. The story of how these ideas were formed, then transformed into law, replacing the long-held belief in the absolute power of sovereignty, is a searing and thrilling tale of two law students’ obsessive search to bring perpetrators of the Nazi Holocaust to justice.

Philippe Sands, the British international human rights lawyer, scholar, and prolific author, now brings this story to life in his 16th book, East West Street: On the Origins of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity.” The book shares its title with Sands’ lecture, which he will deliver at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, March 30 in Anheuser-Busch Hall’s Bryan Cave Courtroom.

Sands’ campus visit is sponsored by the Whitney R. Harris World Law Institute, and co-sponsored by the Public Interest Law and Policy Speakers Series, both in the School of Law.

Sands is a practicing barrister and appears before a number of international courts and tribunals. In addition, he teaches law at University College London. Sands earned his bachelor’s and law degrees from Corpus Christi College, University of Cambridge.

Most notable among his more academic books are “Lawless World” which catalyzed legal and public debate in the UK on the legality of the Iraqi war; and the influential “Torture Team,” which details the role of Bush administration lawyers in authorizing torture. As a result of his work on “Torture Team,” Sands was invited to give oral and written evidence to the UK and Dutch Parliaments, as well as to the US House of Representatives and the US Senate.