John B. Sandage
has over 35 years of experience as a lawyer and diplomat, including service as Under-Secretary General of the United Nations and Deputy Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), as well as the State Department’s Chief of Counter-Terrorism and Sanctions Policy. He has worked with the governments of 153 countries on every continent. His practice focuses on economic sanctions, public international law and matters related to sovereign governments, multilateral institutions and development matters, and government regulation and public policy.
Before joining BCR in 2022, Mr. Sandage served for six years in Geneva, Switzerland as Deputy Director General for Patents and Technology at WIPO, where he supervised the international patent system and the Arbitration and Mediation Centre for IP Dispute Resolution, with a staff of 450 that generated $640 million in revenues each biennium. In that capacity, he represented WIPO before an investigatory proceeding of the UN Security Council regarding North Korea sanctions. Previously, he served for seven years at the UN Office on Drugs and Crime in Vienna, Austria, where he was responsible for leading all of the UN’s programs on Transnational Organized Crime, Money Laundering, Cybercrime, Human Trafficking, Migrant Smuggling, Firearms, Customs Enforcement, Environmental Crime, Anti-Corruption, Counter-Terrorism, and Counter-Narcotics. In that capacity, he supervised the implementation of training, capacity building and developmental assistance programs from 60 field offices around the world, serving 85 countries.
Mr. Sandage served for 16 years at the US Department of State, in the Office of the Legal Advisor and in the Bureaus of International Organization Affairs and of Counter-Terrorism. He was the principal draftsman of the US brief to the International Court of Justice in Mexico v. United States (Avena), and co-argued the case in The Hague, The Netherlands. He also briefed and argued cases before the Iran-US Claims Tribunal in his capacity as Supervising Attorney for Iran Litigation. As Chief of Counter-Terrorism and Sanctions Policy in the Bureau of International Organizations Affairs and, previously, as Director of Trans-Regional Affairs in the Bureau of Counter-Terrorism, he was responsible for all of the Department’s country-specific sanctions programs (including Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Syria and many others) as well as terrorist financing and related designations, US implementation of UN Security Council sanctions resolutions, including Al Qaida-Taliban-Osama bin Laden, Iraq Oil for Food, and many others. He served at the US Mission to the UN in New York, and was the State Department’s liaison to the 9/11 Commission. He regularly interfaced with Treasury International, the Office of Foreign Assets Control, the National Security Council and the Homeland Security Council on terrorist designations and implementation of economic sanctions.
Mr. Sandage likewise has extensive experience negotiating bilaterally with foreign governments and in multilateral institutions on a broad range of subject matters. He was principal negotiator on behalf of the US government on international treaties and executive agreements on diverse topics ranging from international investment disputes, to Latin American counter-drug operations, to law enforcement cooperation and mutual legal assistance, and was the lead US negotiator in both the UN and several of its specialized agencies. He was responsible for ensuring multi-billion dollar State Department foreign assistance programs remained compliant with congressionally mandated policies. He has extensive experience advocating before both houses of Congress and many Executive Branch departments and agencies on behalf of US and overseas clients.
Before joining the State Department, Mr. Sandage was an Associate Attorney at Wilmer Cutler & Pickering (now WilmerHale), working in the Washington DC and London offices, in the International and Litigation departments. He handled international aviation matters, an international arbitration in Singapore, international trade and export control matters, and helped defend pro bono client Ted Bundy.
Mr. Sandage served as Law Clerk to the Hon. Frank M. Johnson Jr, on the US Court of Appeals for the 11th Judicial Circuit in Montgomery, AL.