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Worcester College Provost’s Lecture East West Street: Origins of Genocide & Crimes Against Humanity

Sunday 26 March 2017

1 Hour


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Ticket price

Human rights lawyer Philippe Sands discusses his powerful Baillie Gifford Prize-winning work on his quest to understand the origins of genocide and crimes against humanity and about the unexpected answers he found about his mother’s family caught up in World War II Lviv and Vienna.

Sands uncovers a story about two Nuremberg prosecutors who discover at the end of the trials that the man they are prosecuting may be responsible for the murder of their entire families in Poland. The two prosecutors were responsible for the introduction of the terms ‘genocide’ and ‘crimes against humanity’ in the 1945 Nuremberg trial. Their story leads Sands on to the story of the events that overwhelmed his own mother’s family in Lviv and Vienna. Sands reflects on the roots of international law and the concepts that have dominated his working life.

Sands is professor of law at University College London and a practising barrister. He has been involved in many significant cases in recent years, including those involving Pinochet, Congo, Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Iraq and Guantanamo Bay. He is also author of Lawless World and Torture Team.

Here he talks to Sir Jonathan Bate, provost of Worcester College and professor of English at the University of Oxford. His biography of John Clare won the Hawthornden Prize for Literature and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Biography. His recent Ted Hughes: The Unauthorised Life was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize.