Edwin Cameron

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Justice Edwin Cameron
Edwin Cameron in robes.jpg
Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa
Assumed office
1 January 2009
Appointed by President Kgalema Motlanthe
Judge of the Supreme Court of Appeal of South Africa
In office
Personal details
Born (1953-02-15) 15 February 1953 (age 61)
Pretoria, South Africa
Alma mater Stellenbosch University,
Keble College, Oxford,
University of South Africa
Profession Constitutional Court Justice
Website www.witnesstoaids.com

Edwin Cameron (born 15 February 1953 in Pretoria) has been a Justice of South Africa’s highest court, the Constitutional Court, since 1 January 2009. [1] He was the first, and remains the only, senior South African official to state publicly that he is living with HIV/AIDS. [2] [3] Previously, he was a judge of the Supreme Court of Appeal for eight years, and a judge of the High Court for six. He was educated at Pretoria Boys’ High School, Stellenbosch University and as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University. [4] During apartheid he was a human rights lawyer. President Nelson Mandela appointed him a judge in 1994. Justice Cameron later criticized President Thabo Mbeki’s AIDS-denialist policies. [5] His prize-winning memoir, Witness to AIDS, has been published in South Africa, the UK, the US and in translation in Germany and in China. [6] And his latest book, Justice: A Personal Account, was published in February 2014. [7] He is involved in many charitable and public causes, and has received many honours for his work.


Cameron was educated at Pretoria Boys High School; Stellenbosch University (Anglo-American Corporation Open Scholarship, BA in Law cum laude, BA Honours in Latin cum laude, Lecturer in Latin and Classical Studies); Keble College (Rhodes Scholarship 1975-7, BA Honours First-class in Jurisprudence and Jurisprudence Prize, BCL Honours First-class and Vinerian Scholar); and the University of South Africa (LLB cum laude and medallion for the best law graduate).

He was appointed an Honorary Fellow of Keble College, Oxford in October 2003 and was a Visiting Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford 2003-4, researching 'Aspects of the AIDS Epidemic, examining in particular the denialist stance supported by SA President Mbeki'.

Legal career[edit]

Cameron practised at the Johannesburg Bar from 1983 to 1994. From 1986 he practised as a human rights lawyer at the University of the Witwatersrand's Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS), where in 1989 he was awarded a personal professorship in law. While at CALS, he co-drafted the Charter of Rights on AIDS and HIV, co-founded the AIDS Consortium and founded and was the first director of the AIDS Law Project.

He took silk in 1994. In October 1994 President Nelson Mandela appointed him an Acting Judge of the High Court to chair a Commission into illegal arms deals. He was appointed permanently to the High Court in 1995. In 1999/2000 he served for a year as an Acting Justice in the Constitutional Court before being appointed to the Supreme Court of Appeal.

Between 1998 and 2008, he chaired the Council of the University of the Witwatersrand. He is the Patron of the Guild Cottage Children's Home, of the Soweto HIV/AIDS Counsellors' Association (SOHACA) and of Community AIDS Response (CARE).

Cameron has co-authored a number of books, including Defiant Desire – Gay and Lesbian Lives in South Africa (with Mark Gevisser) and Tony Honoré's South African Law of Trusts. He is the general secretary of the Rhodes Scholarships in Southern Africa (www.rhodestrust.org.za) and is a patron of the Oxford University Commonwealth Law Journal.[8]

He has received many awards and distinctions. These include an Honorary Fellowship of the Society for Advanced Legal Studies, London; the Nelson Mandela Award for Health and Human Rights (2000); Stellenbosch University's Alumnus Award (2000), Transnet's HIV/AIDS Champions Award and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation Excellence in Leadership Award (2003). In 2002 the Bar of England and Wales honoured him with a Special Award for his contribution to international jurisprudence and human rights. In 2008 he served as a member of the Jury of the Red Ribbon Award, a partnership of the UNAIDS Family.

On 31 December 2008 President Kgalema Motlanthe appointed Cameron to the Constitutional Court, taking effect from 1 January 2009, on an existing vacancy.

On 30 June 2009 Cameron was appointed as an Honorary Master of the Bench of the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple.

He is the 2009-2010 winner of the Brudner Prize from Yale University. The Brudner prize is awarded annually to an accomplished scholar or activist whose work has made significant contributions to the understanding of LGBT issues or furthered the tolerance of LGBT people.[9] He was most recently in the news for his open criticism of the South African film Spud, which in a letter to Ross Garland, its producer, he described as "gay-hating," although he prefaced this by saying that he had been "[t]horoughly and happily swept away by the fine acting".[10] Garland, however, responded by accusing of advocating "censorship," and informed the press of his intention to seek legal advice about the possibility of suing for defamation.[11]


Cameron's critical role in the battle for access to antiretroviral treatment in Africa and other parts of the global south is portrayed in the award-winning documentary Fire in the Blood.[12]



  1. ^ "Justice Edwin Cameron Profile" http://www.constitutionalcourt.org.za/text/judges/current/justicecameron/1.html
  2. ^ "Bearing Witness, A&U Mag" http://www.aumag.org/features/CameronDec05.html
  3. ^ "Key People: Edwin Cameron, JournAIDS" http://www.journaids.org/index.php/essential_information/hivaids_key_people/edwin_cameron/
  4. ^ "University of Oxford honours Justice Edwin Cameron, March 2011" http://www.rhodeshouse.ox.ac.uk/news/university-of-oxford-honours-justice-edwin-cameron
  5. ^ "Mbeki defiant about South African HIV/AIDS Strategy, The Lancet (2000) 356 at 225" http://download.thelancet.com/pdfs/journals/lancet/PIIS0140673600024892.pdf
  6. ^ "Witness to AIDS" http://www.witnesstoaids.com/
  7. ^ "Justice: A Personal Account" http://www.nb.co.za/Books/16324
  8. ^ "Oxford University Commonwealth Law Journal - Board of Patrons". Retrieved 2009-03-19. 
  9. ^ http://www.yale.edu
  10. ^ Letter from Justice Edwin Cameron to the producer of Spud The Movie.
  11. ^ 'Spud not homophobic'.
  12. ^ http://fireintheblood.com/the-contributors