Goldstone was born on 26 October 1938 and studied law at the University of the Witwatersrand where he obtained a BA LLB degree with honours in 1962.
World-renowned South African judge, Richard Goldstone has served in the most influential courts in the country as Judge of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court in 1989 and Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa from July 1994. He has also served as prosecutor and commission member in several other countries, including genocide investigations and judgements for Bosnia in the Hague.
Goldstone's first position was as advocate at the Johannesburg Bar. He progressed rapidly to Senior Council by 1976 and was appointed Judge of the Transvaal Supreme Court in 1980. In 1985 he was elected National President of the National Institute of Crime Prevention and the Rehabilitation of Offenders (NICRO), a position he filled until 2000. From 1991 to 1994 he led a commission of inquiry related to Public Violence and Intimidation, which became known as the Goldstone Commission. He also chaired the Standing Advisory Committee of Company Law. On 15 August 1994 he was assigned the important position of Chief Prosecutor of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal covering the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda and remained in this position until September 1996.
In 1998 Goldstone and a panel of international specialists drafted a Declaration of Human Duties and Responsibilities in Valencia, Spain, for UNESCO. In August 1999 he was appointed Chairperson of the International Independent Inquiry in Kosovo. He stayed with the Inquiry until December 2001 after which he became Chairman of the International Task Force on Terrorism, established by the International Bar Association. He also served as chairperson of the Bradlow Foundation, an educational trust while heading the board of the Human Rights Institute of South Africa (HURISA).
Goldstone has established himself as an international law expert as well as an academic. He was Chancellor of the University of the Witwatersrand, and served on the board of its law school. In Jerusalem, Israel, he was a Governor of the Hebrew University.
He also led World ORT, a global technology and technical training organisation. When the Argentinean government decided to monitor an International Panel established in August 1997 to study Nazi activities in their country since 1938, they included Goldstone. He has been honoured with numerous awards that include the International Human Rights Award from the American Bar Association in 1994, and Honorary Doctorates from the Universities of Cape Town, Natal, the Witwatersrand, Jerusalem, the Hebrew University, Notre Dame, the Mary University College and Wilfred Laurier in Ontario Canada. The Universities of Glasgow, and the Catholic University of Brabant in Tilburg, the Netherlands, Calgary and Emory also awarded him honorary qualifications.
The Inner Temple in London selected him as an Honorary Bencher with St Johns College at Cambridge appointing him an Honorary Fellow. Within the legal world he is an Honorary Member of the Association of the Bar in New York and a Fellow of the Weatherhead Centre for International Affairs at Harvard. He made a significant contribution to the Arts and development of Science as Foreign Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and faculty member of the Salzburg Seminar for 3 years, and from October to December 2001 he was visiting Professor at the School of Law at New York University.
Goldstone has always been deeply involved in the protection of human rights and at the closing of the international conference on "Hate, Genocide and Human Rights: Fifty Years Later", held at The Faculty of Law's Moot Court, he said: “Human rights laws, genocide laws, laws relating to hate speech”¦are an attempt by humankind to stop the terrible slaughter of men, women and children which has marked this century,”
Richard Goldstone is married and has two daughters and four grandsons.