13 December 2018
Philippe Sands, Professor of Law at University College London and practising barrister at Matrix Chambers, was invited by the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies and the Geneva Academy for a public conference to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the Genocide Convention.
The lecture closed a scientific symposium co-organized by the Department of International History of the Graduate Institute and the Geneva Academy, which brought together jurists and historians to debate and confront critical approaches and views on the UDHR.
Building upon his research on two prominent founders of contemporary international law (Hersch Lauterpacht and Raphael Lemkin) and his own family’s experience, Philippe Sands explained how, starting from the Nuremberg Trials of 1945-1946, international law has developed by protecting at the same time the individual (according to Lauterpacht's vision) and the group, with the success of Lemkin's endeavour towards a convention on the prevention and prohibition of genocide.
‘The ideas and endeavours of Lauterpacht and Lemkin influenced politics, history, culture, my life and yours’, said Professor Sands. ‘The concepts of ‘crimes against humanity’ and ‘genocide’ have entered our world, although many are under the impression that they have existed since time immemorial. They have not: both are the product of creative and inventive minds, two men driven by their own experiences forged on the anvil of a single city.’
This public lecture by Professor Philippe Sands, which closed the public symposium on ‘The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at Seventy: Historical and Juridical Perspectives’, examined, from the Nuremberg Trials until now, the development of international law.
Dr Jonathan Andrew is a Research Fellow at the Geneva Academy, where he conducts research on the impact of emerging digital technologies, such as the development of social media channels, on the promotion and protection of human rights.
UN Photo / Jean-Marc Ferre
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