In 1997, Richard Goldstone, prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunals (1994-1996) held the fourth Europe Lecture. He was introduced by Maarten van Traa i, member of the Dutch House of Representatives (1986-1997). The theme of this Europe Lecture was 'Human Rights, Peace and Justice in Europe'.
Richard Joseph Goldstone built up a reputation as an impartial and dignified judge with a keen sense for human rights. After serving at the highest court in South Africa he became chief prosecutor for the UN in the warcrime tribunals of former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. He again served as judge in South Africa, at the Constitutional Court, and chaired several committees of inquiry on the international stage. For his work Richard Goldstone received a number of international prizes and honorary doctorates.
Richard Goldstone has become a highly regarded figure in international law and politics. He has been critised for serving under the regime of apartheid and the fact he upheld many racist policies as judge. Many, including the likes of Desmond Tutu, defended Goldstone. They recognised his efforts to curb the worst elements of apartheid legislation in his judgements.
In 2009 his report on the Gaza War became highly politicised. Goldstone withdrew his involvement and name from the report, as he felt both the anti as well as the pro Israeli camp made selective use of his findings. As of 2013 Richard Goldstone was still active in a number of non-governmental organisations promoting human rights and gives lectures at university.
"It is a great honour to have been invited to deliver this Europe Lecture, the fourth Europe Lecture, this evening. It is particularly fitting perhaps – and moving in a way for my wife and me – that this is our farewell, because early tomorrow morning we leave the Netherlands. We will go to New York first, where I have to complete my term of office as the Prosecutor for the two United Nations War Crimes Tribunals, attending a number of meetings at the United Nations headquarters in New York.
It is fitting because we started on our first day with a very warm welcome from all of the people we met – particularly Dutch people – when we arrived in The Hague, and we leave with warm friendship as we say goodbye from Utrecht this evening. We have received nothing but warmth, friendship, companionship, and – most important of all – encouragement in my work from the Dutch people and the Dutch government. It makes a tremendous difference doing difficult work in pleasant surroundings. I know that my colleagues working in Kigali, where the political situation is fluid, have had a lot of problems because of having to work in difficult, uncongenial surroundings. We, on the other hand, have been very fortunate indeed."