Richard Goldstone

richard goldstone in front of paned window

In these excerpts from his interview for the Ad Hoc Tribunal Oral History Project, Richard Goldstone shares memories of his path to the ICTY and some of the challenges he faced as the first international prosecutor since Nuremberg. (5:32)

Interview conducted 9 March 2015 in Waltham, Massachusetts, by David P. Briand and Leigh Swigart.


Interview Content

In this interview, Justice Richard Goldstone reminisces about his recruitment process by the U.N. to become prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR); the early staff of ICTY and how the staff was filled out; Ralph Zacklin's contributions to the establishment of tribunal structures and processes; the informal amalgamation of different law practices by international staff; issues surrounding victims coming to court and giving evidence; Patricia Sellers and incorporation of gender-related war crimes in tribunal jurisprudence; challenges due to the ongoing violence in the former Yugoslavia; the process of putting together indictments; experiences in Rwanda after the conflict; travel in the former Yugoslavia during the conflict; and his visit to the former Yugoslavia and meetings with students after the conflict had ended.

He discusses how The Hague was a more desirable posting than Kigali for criminal investigators, and differences between the ICTY and ICTR statutes.

read transcript of full interview

Biographical Information

Richard J. Goldstone served as the prosecutor of the United Nations Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda between 1994 and 1996. Previously, he had chaired what became known as the Goldstone Commission, an independent judicial commission that investigated activities and people who posed a threat to the restoration of civil rights during the transition to post-apartheid South Africa.

Goldstone served as justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa from 1995 to 2003. Since his retirement, he has engaged in numerous activities related to the rule of law and human rights. Notable among these were his 2004 appointment by the secretary-general of the United Nations to the Independent International Committee that investigated the Iraq Oil for Food program, and his chairmanship of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on possible war crimes and international human rights violations committed by any party in the context of the military action in Gaza in December 2008 and January 2009. In 2008, he chaired a U.N. committee to advise the United Nations on appropriate steps to preserve the archives and legacy of the Ad Hoc Criminal Tribunals.