The rule of law is arguably the most basic requirement of any civilized society, and an independent judiciary, to which access is available to all citizens, is an essential ingredient of the rule of law. Freedom of expression is also fundamental in a democratic society, in which the courts and the media have vital and complementary institutional roles. Together, they hold power to account, enforce the rights of individuals and shed light on matters of public interest - and they also monitor each other. The media have been described as the watchdogs of democracy, highlighting democratic deficits and demanding accountability from elected officials. And judges have no more important role than to hold the Government to account when it does not adhere to the law and to uphold the rights of individuals. And there is no more vital right than freedom of expression.
The representation of women in the judiciary is significant for many reasons. Besides ensuring that the legal system is developed with all of society in mind and that in turn a representative perspective is brought to adjudication, the inspiration it provides to the next generation of female judges gives them continued motivation to achieve their goals. And while equality in the judiciary has been historically uneven, steps are being taken to remedy this, as evidenced by the acceptance of a new United Nations General Assembly Resolution marking 10 March as the International Day of Women Judges. This Resolution, drafted by the State of Qatar, is tangible proof of an evident positive shift underway in several geographic regions.
On 12 March 2020, the Norwegian Government implemented the strictest and most invasive measures ever introduced in Norway in peacetime in the hopes of stopping or slowing down the spread of COVID-19 infections. The courts quickly had to address how best to handle their role in society in a prudent manner. It was quickly realized that something had to be done to find alternatives to physical court sessions. For most court cases, alternative ways for processing the cases were considered: either in writing, as remote sessions or as a combination of both.
Florida's official nickname is "The Sunshine State" because of its warm weather throughout the year, but to those who work with Florida's government, it is considered "The Sunshine State" because of the public's access to Florida's branches of government. Any citizen can simply make a public records request to obtain information about almost any activity of Florida's government. This access to information includes Florida's judiciary and certain disciplinary actions. In fact, cases of judicial misconduct where probable cause has been found and formal charges filed are published on the website of the Supreme Court of Florida.
Created in 1966 by amendment of the Florida Constitution, the Judicial Qualifications Commission ("JQC") is an independent state agency tasked with investigating allegations of misconduct and disability by all judges within the state of Florida.
The independence, transparency and integrity of the judicial system is a fundamental factor of the rule of law, as is public confidence in the judiciary. In the rapidly changing global environment, numerous issues continue to present new challenges that are particularly sensitive for justice matters. These include gender issues, the rise of Artificial Intelligence, the concept of judicial immunity for judges, and the increasing use of social media by judges and judicial staff. On these matters and others, the Global Judicial Integrity Network has been supporting judiciaries around the world.
Launched in 2018 by UNODC, the Network has already left a large imprint on judiciaries, creating a space and a support system that continues to consolidate. A unique platform of judges, for judges, it aims at strengthening judicial integrity and preventing corruption within judiciaries. This is achieved through the networking opportunities, the facilitation of information sharing, and the response to existing and emerging challenges related to judicial integrity.