Roelof Petrus (Roelf) Meyer was born in Port Elizabeth on 16 July 1947. In 1964 he matriculated at the Ficksburg High School, and he went on to study for his B Comm and LLB degrees at the University of the Free State. As a student, he became active in politics. Meyer practiced as an attorney in Pretoria and Johannesburg until 1980, a year after he became a Member of Parliament for the National Party (NP). Until his retirement from politics in 2000, he played an important and often prominent role in South African politics. His positions included Deputy Minister of Law and Order and of Constitutional Development (1986 to 1991) and Minister of Defence, of Communication and of Constitutional Affairs (1991-1996). Meyer also held a number of international positions, including a membership of the Strategy Committee of the Project on Justice in Times of Transition at Harvard University in the USA, as well as the 2001 Tip O’Neill Chair in Peace Studies at the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland. He also became the Chairman of the Civil Society Initiative (CSI) of South Africa.