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Biography of Edwin CAMERON

South Africa > Professionals : Edwin CAMERON

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Born on 15/02/1953 (format : day/month/year)

Biography :

Edwin Cameron ,born in Pretoria on 15 February 1953 , is the only person in public office in South Africa to acknowledge having HIV/Aids. Here, he talks about going public, the political denial surrounding HIV/Aids and the drugs keeping him alive.

He completed his schooling at Pretoria Boys’ High School. The award of the Anglo-American Corporation Open Scholarship enabled him to attend Stellenbosch University, where he obtained a BA Law cum laude and an Honours degree in Latin cum laude. He lectured in Latin and Classical Studies before leaving for Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship in 1976.

At Oxford he obtained the BA in Jurisprudence with first class honours with the Jurisprudence Prize, and the BCL with first class honours and the Vinerian Scholarship. He obtained his LLB from the University of South Africa cum laude and was awarded the medallion for the best law graduate.
He started practice at the Johannesburg Bar in 1983, and from 1986 conducted a human rights practice from the University of the Witwatersrand’s Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS), where in 1989 he was awarded a personal professorship in law. His practice included labour and employment law; defence 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 organisations 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, in the course of which he delivered his inaugural lecture at the University of the Witwatersrand, entitled "Sexual Orientation and the Constitution: A Test Case for Human Rights", which, with other work, was influential in securing the express inclusion of sexual orientation in the South African Constitution.
In October 1994, after he took silk at the Bar, President Mandela appointed him an Acting Judge of the High Court and chair of a Commission to investigate illegal arms transactions. He was appointed permanently to the High Court from 1 January 1995. In 1999/2000 he served for a year as an Acting Justice in South Africa’s highest court, the Constitutional Court. In 2000 he was appointed a Judge of Appeal in the Supreme Court of Appeal. Since 1998 he has been chair of the Council of the University of the Witwatersrand. He is the Patron of the Guild Cottage Children’s Home, of the Sparrow’s Nest Hospice, of the Community AIDS Response (CARE) and of the Soweto HIV/AIDS Counsellors’ Alliance (SOHACA).

He is also chair and co-founder of the Wits Law School Endowment Appeal. Edwin Cameron is the co-author of The New Labour Law (1987), The New Labour Relations Act (1989), and Defiant Desire -- Gay and Lesbian Lives in South Africa (1994) and of scholarly articles on the judiciary, labour and employment law, the law of trusts, AIDS and HIV, the legal rights of gays and lesbians, and the legal computation of time. He is the lead author of Honoré’s South African Law of Trusts (5 ed 2002). In July 2000 he delivered the keynote address at the XIII International Conference on HIV/AIDS in Durban. He has received numerous awards and distinctions. He has been elected an Honorary Fellow of the Society for Advanced Legal Studies in London. The University of Stellenbosch conferred on him its Alumnus Award for 2000. In 2000, he received the Nelson Mandela Award for Health and Human Rights and Transnet’s HIV/AIDS Champions Award.

In September 2002, the Bar of England and Wales honoured him with a special award at its annual conference in London for his ‘contribution to international jurisprudence and the protection of human rights'. He received the San Francisco AIDS Foundation’s Excellence in Leadership Award for 2003. In October 2003 he was elected an honorary Fellow of Keble College, Oxford.

Last update : 06/29/2008

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