Philippe Sands is Professor of Law at University College London, and author of East West Street: On the Origins of Genocide and Crimes against Humanity. His new book The Ratline will be published in February 2021. He has served as counsel for Mauritius in the Chagos matter for ten years, but the views here expressed are personal. (June 2020)


A Very British Deceit

George W. Bush and Tony Blair after a joint press conference in the early days of the Iraq war, April 8, 2003
A year ago British Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced a long-awaited inquiry into Britain’s involvement in the 2003 Iraq war, to coincide with the departure of British troops from the country. The Iraq inquiry would be chaired by a retired senior civil servant, Sir John Chilcot—a “safe pair of hands,” …

The Complicit General

Eyes on the Horizon: Serving on the Front Lines of National Security

by General Richard B. Myers, USAF (Ret.), with Malcolm McConnell
The silence of Myers and others indicates the uncomfortable truth that the full circumstances in which the CIA and then the US military adopted interrogation strategies amounting to torture remains to be explained.


Britain’s Colonial Legacy on Trial at The Hague

Former inhabitants of Chagos Archipelago, the last British colony in Africa, claiming compensation for being exiled from their homes, High Court, London, October 31, 2002

This legacy—of Britain’s slavery and colonialism, racism and empire—that had been delicately skipped over in my classes soon came ever more sharply into focus for me, not least through the legal cases in which I became professionally involved. The world as it was taught to me and the world as I experienced it were, I came to see, miles apart. British exceptionalism was, well, just part of the natural order.

Before the Nazis: A Ukrainian City’s Contested Past

Milla Bankowicz and Robert Wieckiewicz in Agnieszka Holland's In Darkness (2012)

Tucked away in the far western corner of present-day Ukraine, the city of Lviv defies expectations. Far smaller than Kiev, it was a closed city during the Soviet period from 1945 to 1991, and even today remains relatively little known. Yet in the early twentieth century, it was home to a roughly equal number of Poles, Ukrainians, and Jews and as a result the city played a special and largely unrecognized part in shaping our modern international system of human rights. I have been spending time in Lviv, exploring its remarkable but largely unknown legal history.