Richard J. Goldstone was born on 26 October 1938. After graduating from the University of the Witwatersrand with a BA LLB cum laude in 1962, he practised as an Advocate at the Johannesburg Bar. In 1976 he was appointed Senior Counsel and in 1980 was made Judge of the Transvaal Supreme Court. In 1989 he was appointed Judge of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court.
From 1991 to 1994, he served as Chairperson of the Commission of Inquiry regarding Public Violence and Intimidation, which came to be known as the Goldstone Commission.
From July 1994 to October 2003, he was a Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa. He played a major role in the transition from apartheid South Africa to democracy.
From August 1994 to September 1996, he served as the Chief Prosecutor of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.
During 1998, he was the chairperson of a high level group of international experts which met in Valencia, Spain, and drafted a Declaration of Human Duties and Responsibilities for the Director General of UNESCO (the Valencia Declaration). From August 1999 until December 2001, he was the chairperson of the International Independent Inquiry on Kosovo. In December 2001 he was appointed as the chairperson of the International Task Force on Terrorism that was established by the International Bar Association.
In April 2004, he was appointed by the Secretary- General of the United Nations to the Independent International Committee, chaired by Paul Volcker, to investigate the Iraq Oil for Food program.
In 2008, he chaired a UN Committee to advise the United Nations on appropriate steps to preserve the archives and legacy of the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. In 2009, he chaired 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.
Goldstone received the 1994 International Human Rights Award of the American Bar Association, the 2005 Thomas J. Dodd Prize in International Justice and Human Rights, and the 2009 MacArthur Award for International Justice, announced by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
He is the author of For Humanity: Re ections of a War Crimes Investigator (2001), and the co-author of International Judicial Institutions: the Architecture of International Justice at Home and Abroad (2008).