Philippe Sands

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Philippe Sands
Philippe Sands.JPG
Born (1960-10-17) 17 October 1960 (age 53)
Nationality United Kingdom
Notable work(s) Lawless World, Torture Team: Rumsfeld's Memo and the Betrayal of American Values
Era Modern
Region England
School Western

Philippe Sands, QC (born 17 October 1960) is a British and French lawyer at Matrix Chambers, and is Professor of International law at University College London. Sands is notable for writing Lawless World (2006), in which he accused US President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair of conspiring to invade Iraq in violation of international law. His next book, Torture Team: Rumsfeld's Memo and the Betrayal of American Values (2008), dealt with the decisions by top US policymakers to use torture in interrogation of suspects in the war on terror.[1] He also was the first to refer to the Bush-Blair memo that contained the claim that Bush wanted to lure Saddam Hussein's forces to shoot down a UN plane.[2][3] The Guardian reported Sands's claims about the memo, which stated that Bush had proposed trying to provoke the Iraqis to fire on fighter planes in United Nations colours.[4]

Early life and education[edit]

Having read law at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge (BA 1982, LL.M. first class 1984), Sands was called to the Bar in 1985.


He has held academic positions at St Catharine's College, Cambridge (1984–88), King's College London (1988–91), the New York University School of Law (1994–2003), and the School of Oriental and African Studies (1989–2002), where he founded the Foundation for International Environmental Law and Development. He took up his present post as a Professor of Laws and the Director of the Centre on International Courts and Tribunals at University College London in 2002.[5]

After nearly two decades of academic law and private practice, he was appointed Queen's Counsel in 2003, and appointed a Bencher of the Middle Temple in 2009.[5]

In 2008, he testified before the United States House Judiciary Committee Hearing: From the Department of Justice to Guantanamo Bay: Administration Lawyers and Administration Interrogation Rules and United States Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing: Coercive Interrogation Techniques: Do They Work, Are They Reliable, and What Did the FBI Know About Them?.[6][7]

Jane Mayer reported in The New Yorker on Sands' reaction to news that Spanish investigating judge Baltazar Garzon had received motions requesting that six former Bush officials (Alberto Gonzales John Yoo, Douglas Feith, William Haynes II, Jay Bybee, and David Addington) be charged with war crimes.[8] Mayer reported that when Sands's book was published, the prediction that the six men would be charged seemed far-fetched. The Spanish government decided against pursuing the prosecution.

In the same report Mayer recorded Sands's apparent reluctance to represent General Pinochet in his extradition proceedings. She says that Sands declined the case, but went on to appear against Pinochet.

Sands is representing Macedonia in its case against Greece relating to the Macedonian naming dispute at the International Court of Justice; he made opening statements for the Macedonian state on 21 March 2011.

He was an Arbitrator in several ICSID cases (Investment arbitration).

He is Director of the Centre on International Courts and Tribunals in UCL (University College London) Faculty of Laws.

He claims to be a mainstream lawyer, not a radical.

Sands lives in London with his wife and three children.

Tricycle Theatre Ban of UK Jewish Film Festival[edit]

Sands is a board member of the Tricycle Theatre. The Tricycle hosted the UK Jewish Film Festival for eight years until 2013. In 2014 the Tricycle refused to host the festival after it failed to pressure the UK Jewish Film Festival to distance itself from the Israeli Embassy. In his role as a board member, Sands defended this decision, and allegations of discrimination and inconsistency, on the BBC's Newsnight.[9]


External links[edit]