‘East West Street’: A Musical on Human Rights

‘East West Street’: A Musical on Human Rights

by Shruthi Venkatesh October 19 2018, 2:50 pm Estimated Reading Time: 2 mins, 58 secs

The 92nd Street Y’s Tisch Centre for the Arts is all set to launch the North American premier of East West Street: A Song of Good and Evil. The performance will mark the 70th anniversary of the adoption by the United Nations of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the Convention on the Prohibition of Genocide. The founding of the Inter­national Criminal Court (ICC) in 1998 was a remarkable moment in world history. In the years since, leaders have been held to account for their crimes, and human rights law has made huge advances; less prominently, the history of the human rights movement has flourished alongside it. The lawyer Philippe Sands saw the founding of the ICC and has worked on a number of high-profile cases, including the arrest of General Pinochet. Now he has added a vivid and readable contribution, part memoir, part documentary, to the history debate as well.

Philippe Sands ( thedailyeye

Sands has appeared before many international courts, including the European Court of Justice; the International Court of Justice; the World Trade Organisation dispute settlement organs; the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea; the International Criminal Court; and the Special Court for Sierra Leone. He has appeared in arbitrations under the rules of the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes, the Permanent Court of Arbitration and the International Chamber of Commerce; the World Bank Inspection Panel; and the Special Court for Sierra Leone.  Philippe also appears before the English courts.

Philippe Sands, East West Street looks at the personal and intellectual evolution of the three men who simultaneously originated the ideas of ‘genocide’ and ‘crimes against humanity’, of whom, not knowing the other, studied at the same university with the same professors, in a city little known today that was a major cultural centre of Europe, ‘the little Paris of Ukraine’, a city variously called Lemberg, Lwów, Lvov, or Lviv. The program widely focuses the connections between these three men whose lives became intertwined during the Nuremberg trials:  Hersch Lauterpacht, who introduced the concepts of crimes against humanity and war crimes into international law; Raphael Lemkin, who coined the term ‘genocide’; and Hans Frank, Hitler’s personal lawyer and a leading architect of Hitler’s ‘Final Solution’.  

East West Street is an exceptional memoir. Along the way, it underscores that it was Jewish lawyers, men with direct experience of persecution, who laid the foundations of international human rights law. The multimedia work will feature pianists Emanuel Ax and Guillaume de Chassy; Metropolitan Opera bass-baritone Laurent Naouri, who chose the musical selections; and co-narrator Katja Riemann. The program’s musical selections will also include Bach, Beethoven, Busoni, Frederic Chaslin, Leonard Cohen, Paul Misraki, Prokofiev, Rachmaninoff and Ravel. “Supremely gripping, Sands produced something extraordinary. Sands tells it not just as history but as a family memoir, a detective thriller and a meditation on the power of memory. Written with novelistic skill, its prose effortlessly poised, its tone perfectly judged, the book teems with life and high drama, one of the most gripping and powerful books imaginable.” says Dominic Sandbrook, The Sunday Times.

Sands’ “East West Street” is a machine of power and beauty that should not be ignored by anyone in the United States or elsewhere who would believe that there are irreparable crimes whose adjudication should not stop at the border.

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