Bentham Association

Bentham Association: Presidents

Bentham Club President 2003-04
Edwin Cameron

Edwin Cameron is a member of South Africa’s Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court of Appeal, and a moral philosopher with an international reputation. No one who has attended one of his lectures will ever forget the experience. His brief speech to the Bar Conference last year, in accepting the special award for his “outstanding contribution to international jurisprudence and human rights”, won him a standing ovation.

Edwin Cameron attended Stellenbosch University, where he obtained a BA Law cum laude and an Honours degree in Latin cum laude. He lectured in Latin and Classical Studies before leaving for Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship in 1976. At Oxford he obtained the BA in Jurisprudence with first class honours, with the Jurisprudence Prize, and the BCL with first class honours and the Vinerian Scholarship. He obtained his LLB from the University of South Africa cum laude and was awarded the medallion for the best law graduate.

He started practice at the Johannesburg Bar in 1983, and from 1986 conducted a human rights practice from the University of the Witwatersrand’s Centre for Applied Legal Studies, where in 1989 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 organisations working in AIDS), which he chaired for its first three years, and founded and was the first director of the AIDS Law Project.

In October 1994, after he took silk at the Bar, President Mandela appointed him an Acting Judge of the High Court and chair of a Commission to investigate illegal arms transactions. He was appointed permanently to the High Court from 1 January 1995, at the age of 41. In 1999/2000 he served for a year as an Acting Justice in South Africa’s highest court, the Constitutional Court. In 2000 he was appointed a Judge of Appeal in the Supreme Court of Appeal.

He has received numerous awards and distinctions. He has been elected an Honorary Fellow of the Society for Advanced Legal Studies in London. The University of Stellenbosch conferred on him its Alumnus Award for 2000. In 2000, he received the Nelson Mandela Award for Health and Human Rights and Transnet’s HIV/AIDS Champions Award.

He is currently an honorary visiting Fellow at All Souls, Oxford.