Prof. Philippe Sands

Professional Summary

Called 1985 Appointed KC 2003

Contact Details

T +44 (0)20 7632 8500 Clerk Lee Cutler Clerk Tori Eastwick E

“Very prominent, influential, extremely good and one of the big names of his age.”

Chambers Global

Philippe is Professor of Public Understanding of Law at University College London, and Samuel and Judith Pisar Visiting Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. He served as President of English PEN until last year, and is on the board of the Hay Festival of Arts and Literature.

Author of many academic books, he has also published  East West Street (2016) and The Ratline (2020). Philippe is an occasional contributor to many publications, including the Guardian, Financial Times and New York Times, and appears regularly on the BBC and CNN. His latest book, The Last Colony, was published in September 2022.

International Law

Over recent years, Philippe has developed a practice in general international law, covering a wide range of subjects, acting as counsel and arbitrator.

Areas in which he currently advises, litigates and arbitrates include:

  • maritime boundary disputes in the Caribbean, Atlantic and Pacific Oceans;
  • international claims relating to climate change, natural resources and the environment;,  international investment disputes, as arbitrator;
  • issues relating to human rights and immunities;
  • international crimes, including aggression, genocide, crimes against humanity and ecocide;
  • international sports disputes, as arbitrator.

He appears regularly before many international courts and tribunals, including the International Court of Justice, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, the International Criminal Court, the ECHR, the CJEU and the Permanent Court of Arbitration. Occasionally, Philippe also appears before the English courts.

Philippe has accepted appointments as an arbitrator in several cases under ICSID, UNCITRAL, ICC and PCA rules. He is a designated Member of the Panel of Arbitrators established by the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes. Having accepted an appointment as ICSID arbitrator, since July 2007 he has not accepted new instructions to act as counsel in investment treaty arbitrations. In June 2011, he was appointed to the panel of arbitrators of the International Court of Arbitration for Sport (ICAS), and has been appointed as arbitrator in several cases since September 2011.

Academic Publications

Philippe’s academic publications include Bowett’s Law of International Institutions (Sweet & Maxwell, 6th edition, 2009), From Nuremberg to The Hague (CUP, 2003), Principles of International Environmental Law (CUP, 4th edition, 2019, with Jacqueline Peel), and the Manual of International Courts and Tribunals (2nd ed., 2010, OUP, co-editor).

Bookings and other writings

Philippe’s writings include The Ratline: Love, Lies and Justice on the Trail of a Nazi Fugitive (Weidnefeld, 2016), East West Street: On the Origins of Genocide & Crimes against Humanity (Weidenfeld, 2016), Torture Team: Uncovering War Crimes in the Land of the Free (Penguin/Palgrave Macmillan, 2008) and Lawless World (Penguin, 2005).

Current Academic Positions

Professor of Laws and Director of the Centre on International Courts and Tribunals, University College London, University of London (since January 2002)

Visiting Professor, Harvard Law School (since 2019)

Professional Qualifications

Member of the Bar of England and Wales (called 1985), former Member of the Irish Bar (called 2002)

King’s Counsel (2003)

Previous Academic Positions

Previously held academic positions at the Universities of Cambridge (1984-8, Research Fellow, St Catharine’s College) and Kings College London (1988-91).

Founder and Director of Studies, Foundation for International Environmental Law and Development (SOAS) (1989-1999)

Global Professor of Law, New York University School of Law (1994-2003)

Professor of International Law, University of London (School of Oriental and African Studies), (1999-2002) (previously Reader in International Law (1996 to 1999; Lecturer in Law, 1992-6)

Public Appointments

Commission on a Bill of Rights, independent Commission established by the Government of the United Kingdom, Member (2011-2013)

Arbitral Appointments

Permanent Court of Arbitration, Appointed by Secretary General to Panel of Arbitrators pursuant to Article 8(3) of the PCA Optional Rules for Arbitration of Disputes Relating to Natural Resources and the Environment (2002-2014)

Member of the Panel of Arbitrators established by the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes, designated by Guyana (since 2005)

Member, Panel of Arbitrators, International Court of Arbitration for Sport (since June 2011)


“A leading light in Public International Law.” Chambers & Partners, 2022, Public International Law

“A fantastic and top-notch lawyer.” Chambers & Partners, 2022, Public International Law

“A brilliant advocate, a great strategist and a wonderful orator. He is absolutely terrific to work with.”

“An esteemed practitioner who is often retained by NGOs and states on matters of international significance.”

“He’s a very impressive barrister who’s written a leading textbook on international environmental law.”

“A highly regarded PIL practitioner, with significant expertise spanning international environmental law, international criminal law and international maritime law.”

“He has the best oral advocacy skills of anyone out there. He is terrifically eloquent and is unmatched in his ability to present complicated legal issues before courts and tribunals.”

“An important and talented figure with a diverse practice.”

“He’s very dynamic, with a diverse range of experience in different contexts and fields of international law. Very prominent, influential, extremely good and one of the big names of his age.”

Chambers & Partners


Regulatory Information

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Professional title: Barrister

Full name (as registered with Bar Standards Board of England and Wales): Prof. Philippe Sands

VAT Number:

Legal Status: Sole Practitioner

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