Justice Richard Goldstone Receives Honorary Degree from Brandeis University

(left to right) Leigh Swigart, Daniel Terris, Richard Goldstone, and Mari Fitzduff

Introductory remarks by Marty Krauss, Provost

Richard Goldstone, a retired justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa, is one of the world’s pillars for global justice. In 1991, he was entrusted with interpreting the new South African Constitution and supervising the country’s transition to democracy. He also has confronted one of the most daunting tasks that any jurist faces—the task of eliciting the truth from perpetrators of violence and of bringing justice to their victims. As South Africa was emerging from apartheid, he was named Chairperson of the Commission of Inquiry Regarding Public Violence and Intimidation, later known as the Goldstone Commission. The Commission played a critical role in defusing the political violence that erupted when apartheid in South Africa began eroding in the late 1980s. Its mission was to investigate and to report on the causes of political violence and intimidation. Over 140 public inquiries were held into specific instances of violence. Judge Goldstone’s passion for the truth is summarized best in his own words: “I think if people know that steps are being taken to investigate and to get the truth and to make the truth public, the tendency for revenge, for taking the law into one’s own hands, is reduced considerably.”

And, to quote further, "When serious human rights violations have occurred, they must be responded to in a way that will engender a sense of justice and which will enable the victims to heal, reconcile, and to move forward with building a peaceful future."

His passion for justice and his belief that the truth must be told fully and honestly led to his appointment between 1994 and 1996 as the Chief Prosecutor of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. He also served as the chairperson of the International Bar Association's Task Force on International Terrorism.

Considered by many as the giant among international jurists, he was the founder and the inspiration for the Brandeis Institute for International Judges. This program, sponsored by our International Center for Ethics, Justice, and Public Life, is the world’s first forum for judges who serve on international courts, and it is strengthening global justice by focusing on ethics and other matters of common concern.

Judge Goldstone is the recipient of the International Human Rights Award of the American Bar Association, a foreign member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and tomorrow will add another honorary degree to his long list of similar recognition from other universities around the world. I am told that he has another distinction well known to those with whom he works, namely that he is a constant e-mailer, a legend in the fast pace of communication. We hope that he’ll keep his blackberry under control and out of sight tomorrow as Brandeis University confers upon him our highest honors.