Richard Joseph Goldstone (born October 26, 1938) is a South African former judge. After working for 17 years as a commercial lawyer, he was appointed by the South African government to serve on the Transvaal Supreme Court from 1980 to 1989 and the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of South Africa from 1990 to 1994. He was one of several liberal judges who issued key rulings that undermined apartheid from within the system by tempering the worst effects of the country's racial laws. Among other important rulings, Goldstone made the Group Areas Act – under which non-whites were banned from living in "whites only" areas – virtually unworkable by restricting evictions. As a result, prosecutions under the act virtually ceased.
During the transition from apartheid to multiracial democracy in the early 1990s, he headed the influential Goldstone Commission investigations into political violence in South Africa between 1991 and 1994. Goldstone's work enabled multi-party negotiations to remain on course despite repeated outbreaks of violence, and his willingness to criticise all sides led to him being dubbed "perhaps the most trusted man, certainly the most trusted member of the white establishment" in South Africa. He was credited with playing an indispensable role in the transition and became a household name in South Africa, attracting widespread international support and interest.
Goldstone's work investigating violence led directly to him being nominated to serve as the first chief prosecutor of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda from August 1994 to September 1996. He prosecuted a number of key war crimes suspects, notably the Bosnian Serb political and military leaders, Radovan Karadžić and Ratko Mladić. On his return to South Africa he took up a seat on the newly-established Constitutional Court of South Africa, to which he had been nominated by President Nelson Mandela. In 2009, Goldstone led an independent fact-finding mission created by the UN Human Rights Council to investigate international human rights and humanitarian law violations related to the Gaza War. The mission's findings that Israel and Hamas had both committed serious violations of the laws of war led to a major international controversy.