George Soros delivered the Inaugural Open Society Lecture on 14 December 1994 at the Carlton Centre in Johannesburg. The original booklet containing the lecture is on display at the Open Society Foundation for South Africa offices.
Previous speakers from 1994 to 2000 embodied the values of tolerance, justice, openness and equality. They were leaders, trailblazers and public intellectuals whose work contributed to the development and promotion of democracy and an open society within South Africa, in Africa, and globally. Between 1994 and 2000, speakers included:
- George Soros, founder and Chair of the Open Society Foundations (1994);
- Mme Frene Ginwala, the first black woman Speaker of Parliament in a democratic South Africa (1995);
- Justice Richard Goldstone, later Justice of the Constitutional Court and Prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda (1996);
- Justice Dikgang Moseneke, later Deputy Chief Justice of South Africa (1997);
- President Nelson Mandela, the first black President in a democratic South Africa, and global anti-apartheid struggle icon and former political prisoner (1999); and
- Justice Navi Pillay, later the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (2000).
Previous lectures explored: the challenges and opportunities of the transition towards an open society in South Africa, and in countries that have experienced extreme ethnic and nationalist pressures; the challenges of information technology for an open society; the role of the Constitution and law in an open society; and the importance of international criminal justice in an open and global society.