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Biography of Arthur CHASKALSON

South Africa > Politics : Arthur CHASKALSON

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Born on 24/11/1931 (format : day/month/year)

Biography :

Arthur Chaskalson born November 24,  1931 is a former Chief Justice of South Africa.

Chaskalson acted as defence counsel in a number of important political trials during the apartheid era, including the Rivonia trial in 1963-1964 in which former President Nelson Mandela and other ANC leaders were sentenced to life imprisonment. As founder and director of an organisation that sought to pursue justice and human rights in South Africa, the Legal Resources Centre, he challenged the implementation of several apartheid laws.

Justice Arthur Chaskalson was born in Johannesburg on 24 November 1931. In 1952 he graduated from the University of the Witwatersrand with a B.Com, and in 1954 he obtained his LLB Cum Laude. Two years later he was admitted to the Johannesburg Bar. Between 1989 and 1990 he served as a consultant to the Namibian Constituent Assembly regarding the drafting of the Constitution of Namibia, and from 1990-1994 he consulted the ANC on constitutional matters. He was a key advisor to the Multi Party Negotiating Forum in the drafting and adoption of the Interim Constitution in 1993. In June 1994, he became the first President of South Africa's new Constitutional Court, the highest court in South Africa where constitutional matters are concerned. On 22 November 2001 he became the Chief Justice of South Africa.

He has received several honorary doctorate degrees: in 1986 from the University of Natal, in 1990 from the University of the Witwatersrand, from Rhodes University in 1997 and from the University of Amsterdam in 2002. Awards include the Premier Group Award for prestigious service by a member of the Faculty of Law at the University of the Witwatersrand (1983), the Claude Harris Leon Foundation Award for community service (1984) and the Wits Alumni Hour Award for exceptional community service (1984).

In 1990 he received (together with Dr S. Magoba) the Human Rights Award of the Foundation for Freedom and Human Rights in Berne, Switzerland. He has also received awards for his human rights work from the South African Jewish Board of Deputies and the General Council of the Bar of South Africa. In 2002, he was awarded the Order of the Counsellor of the Baobab in Gold for Exceptional Service in Law, Constitutional, Jurisprudence and Human Rights. The Order of the Baobab is one of the highest awards given to citizens in South Africa.

Last update : 11/03/2010

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