Justice Richard J. Goldstone, the Learned Hand Visiting Professor of Law at Harvard Law School this semester, was honored with the prestigious MacArthur Award for International Justice yesterday. Goldstone is a former chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.

“It is an honor to receive the MacArthur Award for International Justice, as the Foundation has been a leader in supporting efforts to advance human rights and international justice” said Goldstone. “Since the early 1990s, we have witnessed the emergence of a system of international justice that is growing stronger with each new case tried in a regional court or UN tribunal and with each investigation opened by the International Criminal Court. It has given me tremendous pride and satisfaction to have played a role in ensuring that the perpetrators of mass atrocities have more reason today than ever to fear being brought to justice.”

In selecting Goldstone, the MacArthur Foundation’s Board of Directors cited his role in the development of the modern era of international justice. As Chief Prosecutor of the Tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, Goldstone helped shepherd these courts, the first of their kind since Nazi war criminals were tried at Nuremberg following World War II. In 1995, Goldstone filed charges of genocide and crimes against humanity against Bosnian Serb leaders Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic for their roles in the “ethnic cleansing” of Bosnian Muslims, among other allegations.

Prior to his appointment as Chief Prosecutor in 1994, Goldstone was chair of the Commission of Inquiry Regarding Public Violence and Intimidation (commonly called “the Goldstone Commission”) in the aftermath of apartheid in his native South Africa. His service on the Commission proved invaluable to the democratic transition in that country, where he also served as an inaugural member of the Constitutional Court.

“Justice Goldstone has played an instrumental role in building the emerging international system of justice,” said MacArthur Foundation President Jonathan Fanton in remarks at a MacArthur-supported conference on international justice at American University. “He gave the tribunals moral authority and legal credibility. It is, in large part, a testament to the quality of his work that the international community accepted the Rome Statute and established the International Criminal Court with confidence. His unquestioned competence and integrity won the faith of the world.”

Goldstone will officially receive the award in a May 21, 2009, ceremony at The Hague. The award provides Goldstone with $100,000 for his own work and allows him to administer $500,000 in support of non-profit organizations working on international justice issues. Goldstone is the second recipient of the award; Kofi Annan first received the award last April.

This semester, Goldstone is co-teaching a course on the South African Constitution with HLS Professor Frank Michelman ’60.