Holocaust Awareness Week concludes with ‘powerful, deeply moving’ Morton Lecture
On Thursday night at Northeastern, international lawyer Philippe Sands delivered a powerful lecture examining the creation and development of two significant legal concepts—“genocide” and “crimes against humanity”—that came about to define the atrocities committed by the Nazis.
Sands, professor of law and director of the Centre on International Courts and Tribunals at University College London, discussed his latest book, East West Street: On the Origins of “Genocide” and “Crimes Against Humanity”—the winner of the 2016 Baillie Gifford Prize for Nonfiction. Sands was the keynote speaker at Northeastern’s 25th Annual Robert Salomon Morton Lecture, which was held in Raytheon Amphitheater and served as the culmination of the university’s annual Holocaust Awareness Week.
The book recounts the life and work of two Jewish men—Rafael Lemkin and Hersch Lauterpacht—who simultaneously conceived these terms as legal concepts. In what Sands called a “striking coincidence,” Lemkin and Lauterpacht did not know each other but studied at the same university and walked the same streets in Lemberg, Ukraine, and even had the same teacher. “Yet somehow,” he said, “they developed very different ideas for how law would protect against atrocity.”