Alex Boraine was born in Cape Town in 1931. After entering the ministry, he studied at Rhodes, Oxford and Drew University in the USA. He was appointed youngest-ever President of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa in 1970, worked as an employment practices consultant for Anglo American, and was elected to parliament as an MP for the Progressive Party in 1974. He resigned in 1986 and, together with Frederik Van Zyl Slabbert, founded IDASA, which organised the 1987 meeting with ANC leaders in Dakar, Senegal.
Boraine was one of the main architects of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and served beside Desmond Tutu as its deputy chairperson from 1996 to 1998. After teaching transitional justice at the New York University Law School, he became the founding president of the International Center for Transitional Justice, and has travelled to many countries that are in transition from dictatorship to democracy, at the invitation of governments and NGOs, to share the South African experience and to assist countries in their search for a democratic culture and sustainable peace.