Roosevelt House welcomed Edwin Cameron, Justice of the Constitutional Court, South Africa’s highest court. He is one of South Africa’s most prominent judicial figures and has a long history of activism, especially with regards to the fight against HIV and AIDS. Justice Cameron was the first, and remains the only, senior South African official to state publicly that he is living with HIV/AIDS. His latest book, Justice: A Personal Account, was published in February 2014.
Cameron practiced 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 labor and employment law; defense 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. He was appointed as Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa on January 1st, 2009.