Richard Goldstone was born on 26 October 1938. He is married and has two daughters and four grandsons.
He graduated from the University of the Witwatersrand with a BA LLB cum laude in 1962.
After graduating, Goldstone practised as an advocate at the Johannesburg Bar.
In 1976 he was appointed senior counsel and in 1980 was made a judge of the Transvaal Supreme Court. In 1989 he was appointed to the Appellate Division.
From 1991 to 1994 he served as the chairperson of the Commission of Inquiry Regarding Public Violence and Intimidation, which came to be known as the Goldstone Commission.
He served as a judge of the Constitutional Court of South Africa from July 1994 to October 2003.
From 15 August 1994 to September 1996 he served as the chief prosecutor of the United Nations' International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.
From August 1999 until December 2001 he was the chairperson of the International Independent Inquiry on Kosovo. In December 2001 he was appointed the co-chairperson of the International Task Force on Terrorism, which was established by the International Bar Association.
In April 2004 the secretary-general of the United Nations appointed Goldstone to the independent committee to investigate the Iraqi oil-for-food programme (the Volcker Committee). In October 2007 he was appinted by the Registrars of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda to chair an Advisory Committee on the Archiving of the Documents and Records of the two tribunals.
From 1985 to 2000 Goldstone was the national president of the National Institute of Crime Prevention and the Rehabilitation of Offenders. From 1994 to 2003 he was the chairperson of the board of the Human Rights Institute of South Africa; he remains a trustee.
He was the chairperson of the standing advisory committee on company law from 1984 to 2004.
Between 1996 and 2006 Goldstone was a member of the faculty of the Salzburg Seminar.
From 1997 to 2004 he served as the president of World ORT, an international training organisation. He was a member of the international panel established by the government of Argentina in August 1997 to monitor the inquiry into Nazi activities in the republic since 1938.
In 1998 Goldstone was the chairperson of a high-level group of international experts that met in Valencia, Spain, and drafted a Declaration of Human Duties and Responsibilities for the director-general of UNESCO (the Valencia Declaration).
From 1999 to 2003 he served as a member of the International Group of Advisers of the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Since the beginning of 2004 he has been a visiting professor of law at a number of US law schools. He is presently the Distinguished Visitor from the Judiciary at Georgetown University Law Center and from August to December will be a visiting professor at Harvard Law School.
He is a member of the boards of Human Rights Watch, Physicians for Human Rights, the International Center for Transitional Justice and the Center for Economic Social Rights.
From 1995 until March 2007 he served as the Chancellor of the University of the Witwatersrand. He is a governor of the Hebrew University, Jerusalem.
He chairs the advisory board of the Institute for Historical Justice and Reconciliation and is a member of the advisory board of the Brandeis University Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life. Goldstone is the chairperson of the Bradlow Foundation, a charitable educational trust.
He has received many awards, locally and internationally, including the International Human Rights Award of the American Bar Association in 1994, the Richard E. Neustadt Award from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, the 2008 World Peace Through Law Award from Washington University in St. Louis, and honorary doctorates from:
- the University of Cape Town;
- the University of the Witwatersrand
- the University of Natal;
- the Hebrew University, Jerusalem;
- the University of Notre Dame;
- Maryland University College;
- Wilfred Laurier in Ontario;
- the University of Glasgow;
- the Catholic University of Brabant in Tilburg, the Netherlands;
- the University of Calgary;
- Emory University
- Princeton University
- the University of Wales;
- Duke University;
- Bard College;
- Brandeis University;
- Bowdoin College;
- Case Western Reserve University;
- Brooklyn Law School;
- University of the Pacific, Sacramento; and
- Fordham University
He is an honorary bencher of the Inner Temple, London, an honorary fellow of St John's College, Cambridge, an honorary member of the Association of the Bar of New York and a fellow of the Weatherhead Centre for International Affairs at Harvard University. Goldstone is a foreign member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Service on the Constitutional Court