Conor Gearty

Conor Gearty is a professor of human rights law at the LSE and a barrister at Matrix chambers. Homeland Insecurity, about global anti-terrorism law, will appear in May.

Short Cuts: Versions of Denial

Conor Gearty, 25 January 2024

The European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, visited Rwanda before Christmas and on a visit to one of its genocide memorial sites tweeted that she ‘honour[ed] the memory of the victims of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi’, adding that ‘the past shall never be forgotten.’ But the present, it seems, can be denied. How do we square all these efforts at denial with the celebration by many in Israel at the death and destruction being visited on the population of Gaza, the pressure for the same kind of action to be taken in the West Bank, and the proud circulation by Israeli troops of selfies and videos from the scene to show to their families and friends? Describing the Palestinians as vermin to be removed or killed is hardly the language of denial, but many Israelis combine celebration with a denial that what’s happening is their fault. Denial in Israel is a means of keeping supporters abroad on message. We in the Global North need lies so that we can continue to see our support for Israeli action as morally possible.

Short Cuts: War Crimes

Conor Gearty, 30 November 2023

International law​ takes a special interest in war. Where there is an armed conflict or an occupation it is not enough to hope vaguely that human rights will be respected and for the UN or a special rapporteur to issue a cross report if they are not. War warrants a much fiercer international response, and in recognition of this, the International Criminal Court (ICC) was established in 2002,...


On the Court

27 January 2022

Jonathan Sumption takes issue with my assessment of the recent record of the United Kingdom Supreme Court, particularly in the field of human rights (Letters, 10 February). Sumption was a judge on that court for some six years, during which time he gave a series of excellent judgments on how best to balance the power of judicial interpretation with the (rightful) demands of parliamentary sovereignty....

In the Shallow End

Conor Gearty, 27 January 2022

RobertReed became president of the United Kingdom Supreme Court on 13 January 2020, succeeding Lady Hale. By the end of 2021, the Supreme Court had produced 111 judgments since his appointment, 53 in 2020 and 58 in 2021, with Lord Reed himself sitting in 56 of these cases. These decisions give us an opportunity to assess how his Supreme Court is performing in the current malign political...

From The Blog
4 July 2018

On 8 December 2005, after a four-day case involving 19 barristers, the Appellate Committee of the House of Lords (as the forerunner to the Supreme Court was unglamorously known) gave judgment in A and Others v Secretary of State for the Home Department (No 2). The seven law lords laid down a rule of seemingly great importance: that evidence which was – or was likely to have been – obtained by torture was never to be admissible in legal proceedings. The secretary of state had argued strongly that such evidence should be allowed to be used, but he was soundly defeated. ‘From its very earliest days the common law of England set its face firmly against the use of torture,’ the senior law lord, Lord Bingham, declared; as a 19th-century jurist had put it, the practice is ‘totally repugnant to the fundamental principles of English law’ and ‘repugnant to reason, justice and humanity’.

This book’s most startling revelation – if true – concerns the state of legal education in Britain today. We are told that from their ‘first days at law school’ our...

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