Justice Edwin Cameron of the Constitutional Court of South Africa is the first Distinguished Visitor to the School of Law during the 2011-12 academic year. He is one of the most prominent jurists and human rights activists in the world. As a lawyer for human rights, he drafted the Charter of Rights on AIDS and HIV and was the first director of the AIDs Project. As a scholar, he has published books on AIDS and on the South African Law of Trusts. He was appointed to the Constitutional Court in January 2009.
During his visit at UM Carey Law, he will give two public lectures:
He will also give a talk to the faculty, meet with students and attend classes.
During his remarkably distinguished career, Justice Cameron has been a Rhodes Scholar, won the Brudner Prize from Yale University, been an Honorary Fellow of the Society for Advanced Legal Studies, and won the Nelson Mandela Award for Health and Human Rights.
Justice Cameron completed his schooling at Pretoria Boys’ High School and attended Stellenbosch University on the Anglo-American Open Scholarship, where he obtained a BA Law and an Honours degree in Latin, both cum laude. He lectured in Latin and Classical Studies before studying at Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship. There he obtained a BA in Jurisprudence and the BCL, with honours and prizes. Cameron received his LLB from the University of South Africa, and received the medal for the best law graduate.
Cameron practised at the Johannesburg Bar from 1983 to 1994. From 1986 he was a human rights lawyer based at the University of the Witwatersrand’s Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS), where he was awarded a personal professorship in law. His practice included labour and employment law; defence of ANC fighters charged with treason; conscientious and religious objection; land tenure and forced removals; and gay and lesbian equality.
From 1988 he advised the National Union of Mineworkers on AIDS/HIV, and helped draft and negotiate the industry’s first comprehensive AIDS agreement with the Chamber of Mines. While at CALS, he drafted the Charter of Rights on AIDS and HIV, co-founded the AIDS Consortium (a national affiliation of non-governmental organizations working in AIDS), which he chaired for its first three years, and founded and was the first director of the AIDS Law Project.
He oversaw the gay and lesbian movement’s submissions to the Kempton Park negotiating process. This, with other work, helped secure the express inclusion of sexual orientation in the South African Constitution. In September 1994, he was awarded silk (senior counsel status). President Mandela appointed him an acting judge and later a judge of the High Court. In 1999/2000 he served for a year as an Acting Justice at the Constitutional Court. In 2000 he was appointed a Judge of Appeal in the Supreme Court of Appeal.
Cameron has written scholarly articles on the judiciary, conscription, labour and employment law, the law of trusts, AIDS and HIV, the legal rights of gays and lesbians and the legal computation of time. Apart from his memoir, Witness to AIDS (2005), he has also written books on the law of trusts, labour law and gay and lesbian lives in South Africa.