Conversations in Diplomacy: Justice Richard Goldstone

| May 02, 2012 Series: Conversations in Diplomacy


Diplomacy, according to Justice Richard Goldstone, is a “crucial” part of the day-to-day workings of international justice. “International criminal justice is all about politics,” he told Cathryn Clüver, Executive Director of the Future of Diplomacy Project, in an interview on April 26, 2012. “It requires political will to set up the institutions of criminal justice, and it takes even more political will to see that they succeed.”

Even in his role as the first prosecutor of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda (August 1994-September 1996), Goldstone says that the demands of managing an international prosecution made it essential to understand diplomatic approaches. “It’s a necessity to be a diplomat, to get governments to go along…I found it very useful in the Hague to be adopted by the diplomatic corps.”

On the topic of the recent verdict against ex-Liberian warlord Charles Taylor, the former prosecutor was ebullient. “I think it’s a huge victory for international justice,” he said. “The press reports are coming through on the web of rejoicing in Sierra Leone, that’s what its all about…they’re the victims that suffered.”

Richard Goldstone is a former commercial lawyer and served as a judge on the South African Supreme Court, where he made several key rulings to undermine apartheid from within the country’s legal system. He headed the influential Goldstone Commission investigations into political violence in South Africa, and was later nominated to serve as the first chief prosecutor of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda. On his return to South Africa, he took up a seat on the newly established Constitutional Court of South Africa and subsequently led a fact-finding mission created by the UN Human Rights Council to investigate international human rights and humanitarian law violations in the Gaza War. Goldstone serves on the Board of Directors of several nonprofit organizations that promote justice and has 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.

Listen to the full interview with Justice Goldstone above, or click here to check out our other Conversations in Diplomacy podcasts.


Conversations in Diplomacy is the Future of Diplomacy Project's Podcast Series. The podcasts bring together policymakers, academics, and professionals from around the world of international relations for candid discussions of pressing topics in world affairs.

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Hobbs, Charles and Cathryn Clüver Ashbrook. “Conversations in Diplomacy: Justice Richard Goldstone.” News, , May 2, 2012.

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