Justice Richard Goldstone Delivers Inaugural Lloyd Cutler Lecture in Washington DC




Latest News

Print article
Register for our Newsletter and stay up to date
Register now
Justice Richard Goldstone Delivers Inaugural Lloyd Cutler Lecture in Washington DC

Salzburg Global Director reflects upon his extensive legal career Justice Richard J. Goldstone speaking at the first annual Lloyd N. Cutler Lecture (Photo: Beverly Rezneck)

At the invitation of the Salzburg Global Seminar, the internationally renowned jurist Richard Goldstone delivered the first annual Lloyd N. Cutler Lecture on the Rule of Law in Washington, DC on November 9th.

The event was organized to launch the Lloyd N. Cutler Center for the Rule of Law, an initiative intended to help the Seminar expand and strengthen its program in this area, with which the late Lloyd Cutler (who chaired our Board of Directors from 1984 to 1994) was particularly associated. Justice Goldstone – perhaps the most experienced and widely respected judge and prosecutor in the field of international criminal law – was a friend of Lloyd Cutler and first attended the Salzburg Seminar at his invitation.

Now himself a Director of the Seminar, Goldstone chose as the theme of his lecture “The Rule of Law: Indispensable Prerequisite for Democracy”, giving examples both at a national level (both in his own country, South Africa, and in the US) and in the field of international criminal law. In the national context, he stressed that separation of powers between the branches of government is central to the Rule of Law, and challenged the recent United States practice of using “signing statements” to indicate that the President regards legislation as being unconstitutional and therefore having no binding effect on him. Justice Goldstone quoted with approval the report of an American Bar Association “Blue Ribbon Task Force” in July 2006, to the effect that such presidential assertions of constitutional authority “undermine the rule of law and our constitutional system of separation of powers.”

In the international context, Justice Goldstone praised the work of the International Criminal Court, which he described as “living proof that we no longer live in an age of impunity for war criminals”. He credited the Court’s creation to the work of former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, during her tenure as US ambassador to the United Nations (1993-96), and added that he himself, during discussions at the Salzburg Global Seminar, had been helped to “convert” Lloyd Cutler “from the view that the United States should oppose the ICC to one that the United States should play a waiting game” – which, he said, was also the approach of the Clinton Administration.

In his address, Justice Goldstone drew not only upon his extensive legal career but also on memories of his personal and professional relationship with Lloyd Cutler. He referred to Cutler as “one the most open and inquiring minds one could imagine,” and praised his lifelong support for the Rule of Law, both within the United States and internationally.

Following the lecture – which, thanks to the generosity of B. Thomas Mansbach, a longtime friend of the Seminar and Chairman of the Advisory Board of the Cuter Center for the Rule of Law, was held at the Phillips Collection – Justice Goldstone engaged in a question and answer session with journalist Judy Woodruff of The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, who asked about his recent report for the United Nations on the Gaza Conflict, which a few days earlier had been criticized in a resolution of the US House of Representatives. Goldstone pointed out that the Obama Administration, despite calling the report “deeply flawed,” has backed its two main recommendations – that Israel and Hamas should each set up internal inquiries into violations of the laws of war committed by their respective forces during the conflict in Gaza.

He also strongly denied the recent claim by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the report would deny Israel the right to defend itself. On the contrary, he said, Israel has “the right, and indeed an obligation, to defend its citizens.” He noted that his investigation did not examine the justification for use of force by either Israel or Hamas, but only considered the manner in which force was used and whether it conformed to the laws of war. And he repeated his view that crimes “are committed by individuals, not by a collective people,” adding that his work on this report has not changed his views towards Israel as a state, which he continues to support.

Lloyd Cutler, who died in 2005, was a longtime leader of the Washington DC legal community, serving as an advisor and friend to both Democrats and Republicans, as well as White House Counsel for two Presidents. He was also a committed advocate for the Salzburg Seminar, chairing the organization’s Board of Directors for ten years and working to expand and internationalize the Seminar’s legal programs. The Lloyd N. Cutler Center for the Rule of Law is designed to celebrate the legacy of Cutler and enhance the Seminar’s reputation, which Cutler did much to establish, as a place where experts and emerging leaders from all countries gather to debate and promote the Rule of Law.

Richard Goldstone has served as chairman of the inquiry into violence and human rights abuses by the state security forces in the last years of apartheid in his native South Africa, as a judge on the South African Constitutional Court, and as the first chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunals on the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda in the mid 1990s. He has also been a visiting professor at several of the top law schools in the world.