Philippe Sands

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Philippe Sands
Philippe Sands.JPG
Born (1960-10-17) 17 October 1960 (age 55)
Nationality United Kingdom
Notable work 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 wrote 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]

He 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 jurist 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.[citation needed]

Sands has acted as Counsel in many international disputes before the International Court of Justice, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea and the Permanent Court of Arbitration. He serves as an Arbitrator in investment disputes, including at the World Bank’s International Centre for Investment Disputes.[citation needed]

Sands is a

  • Member, Court of Arbitration for Sport, Lausanne, Switzerland * Director, Centre on International Courts and Tribunals, University College London's Faculty of Laws
  • Member (formerly) of the UK government-appointed Commission on a Bill of Rights

Sands writes frequently for the Financial Times and the Guardian, and is an occasional contributor to the London Review of Books, the New York Review of Books and Vanity Fair. His new book, on the origins of "crimes against humanity" and "genocide", will be published by Alfred Knopf.[citation needed]

He is on the board of English PEN and of the Tricycle Theatre and was an advocate for banning the UK Jewish Film Festival from being hosted at the Tricycle Theatre in 2014, a move which was widely criticised in the UK and led to several of the theatre's donors withdrawing their support from the theatre.[citation needed]

In September 2015, he advocates the creation of a world court that should "rule on climate science to quash sceptics".[9]


Sands lives in London with his wife and three children.


  1. ^ Norton-Taylor, Richard (2 February 2006). "Bush told Blair we're going to war, memo reveals". London, UK: The Guardian. Retrieved 22 May 2010. 
  2. ^ Bennett, Rosemary; Evans, Michael (3 February 2006). "Bush 'tried to lure Saddam into war using UN aircraft'". London, UK: The Times. Retrieved 22 May 2010. 
  3. ^ Andy McSmith (3 February 2006). "Bush 'plotted to lure Saddam into war with fake UN plane'". London, UK: The Independent. 
  4. ^ "Blair-Bush deal before Iraq war revealed in secret memo". The Guardian. 2 February 2006. 
  5. ^ a b "Philippe Sands CV". Matrix Chambers. 18 November 2009. 
  6. ^ "Testimony of Philippe Sands" (PDF). United States House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary. 6 May 2008. 
  7. ^ "Testimony of Philippe Sands". United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary. 10 June 2008. 
  8. ^ Jane Mayer (6 April 2009). "The Bush Six". The New Yorker. Archived from the original on 24 April 2015. 
  9. ^ Adam Vaughan (18 September 2015). "World court should rule on climate science to quash sceptics, says Philippe Sands". The Guardian. 

External links[edit]