28 June 2017 - Recent months have seen wide support from among senior judges in Latin America for the forthcoming Global Judicial Integrity Network. Part of UNODC's Doha Declaration Global Programme, the Network will assist judiciaries across the globe in strengthening judicial integrity and preventing corruption in the justice sector, in line with Article 11 of the United Nations Convention against Corruption.
In June, Presidents and Judges of Constitutional Courts of Latin America gathered for their XXIII Annual Meeting in Brasilia, Brazil. Hosted by the Supreme Court of Brazil, the meeting is organized by the Rule of Law Programme for Latin America of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation. This year brought together members from across Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Uruguay and Germany, as well as representatives from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the International Commission of Jurists and Transparency International. Issues discussed included judicial ethics, the role of Constitutional Courts in tackling corruption, human trafficking, and fundamental rights, Constitution and economy.
UNODC's Roberta Solis, Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Officer, moderated the session on judicial ethics and presented proposals for the launch of the Global Judicial Integrity Network planned for 2018, which was received with great interest and support by participants. During this, and other sessions, participants offered a number of inputs on priority issues and challenges in the region in upholding judicial integrity and preventing corruption. Important themes that emerged from the discussions included judicial independence, ethics training, anti-corruption capacity building, transparency of decisions and court procedures, conflicts of interest and financial disclosure, financial autonomy of courts, accountability and public confidence and trust in the judiciary.
Participants also highlighted that the ethical behaviour of judges was a crucial element in guaranteeing judicial impartiality and legitimacy and citizens' trust in the delivery of justice.
The meeting concluded with the adoption of the Brasilia Declaration. In this, participants expressed their commitment to judicial ethics, human rights, transparency, tackling corruption and promoting access to justice. The document also highlights the support to measures to promote transparency and calls on all judiciaries in the region to participate in the Global Judicial Integrity Network.
Earlier in the year in April, Oliver Stolpe, Senior Programme Officer of the Global Programme, presented the Global Judicial Integrity Network at a meeting in Costa Rica. The Conference, 'Judicial Ethics and the Fight Against Corruption', was organized by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the Judicial Integrity Group and the German Development Cooperation Agency (GIZ) in San José.
Attended by 16 Judges and Supreme Court Judges as well as other stakeholders, including lawyers and development practitioners, the conference focussed on judicial ethics and tackling corruption, with a focus on judicial independence, accountability and the role of independent organizations in relation to Goal 16 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Participants expressed a particular interest in the themes of judicial ethics training, early warning systems to identify the corrupt and corruption risk assessments, as well as in developing a commentary for the Ibero-American Model Code for Judicial Ethics, along the lines of the Commentary on the Bangalore Principles of Judicial Conduct.
After the conference, a communiqué was issued, welcoming, among others, the joint efforts and intent of the participants and their respective specialized bodies as well as other stakeholders to jointly discuss appropriate and effective anti-corruption strategies and plans that promote judicial integrity. In this, the communiqué also noted the resolve to look further into supporting countries in implementing such measures via global partnerships, in particular the Global Judicial Integrity Network.