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.
Increasingly the world over, the concept of rehabilitation is winning ground over that of punishment when dealing with prisoners. Penitentiaries around the globe are striving to effect change by providing inmates with opportunities during their sentence, so that they can more easily be reintegrated into society and become, once again, active and fulfilled members of their communities.
International standards include the Nelson Mandela Rules, of which UNODC is the guardian, stipulating that imprisonment should not be limited to the deprivation of liberty, but that it should be a time for the re-education of prisoners. Rehabilitation includes a number of venues, but for UNODC's Prisoner Rehabilitation initiative, resources and support have been developed in the three core areas of education, vocational training, and employment during prison years, with the goal of contributing to the prisoners' employability after release, and thus reducing chances of recidivism.
The need for gender equality and parity is a topic that has gained much exposure in the last years in the public and private sectors. For Education for Justice (E4J), these concepts must be engrained from very early on in a child's education, and they must be sustained throughout the years. In order to achieve positive results on this front, girls and boys must understand the importance of their respective roles in contributing to a fairer society.
Education in this context also importantly highlights how to prevent all forms of discrimination and violence related to gender, and it can strengthen crime prevention all over the world by planting the seeds of understanding from a young age. Education, and in particular E4J's resources, can also prepare the next generation to come of age as champions of gender equality, challenging discrimination and ending all forms of violence, by effecting changes in law, policy and practice.
Collaborative partnerships between the United Nations and academia play a huge role in tackling global challenges, and in promoting a culture of lawfulness. UNODC's Education for Justice (E4J) initiative has reached out to countless educators and academics in the last five years, lending its support as they strive to empower the next generation of leaders and policymakers.
Together, E4J and hundreds of specialists around the world have developed unique tools and resources to support this objective at various educational levels. In particular, E4J has created a unique set of university modules, available for free download online for everyone, introducing students to the core themes of crime prevention and criminal justice. With over 100 modules surpassing 5,000 pages, professors have the flexibility to integrate various modules into their curricula, even in disciplines that do not generally cover such issues.
Since its creation, UNODC's Education for Justice (E4J) initiative has catered to all levels of formal education, creating tools and resources to teach at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels in a variety of ways. At the core of this teaching material is the promotion of a culture of lawfulness, with a focus on giving the next generation the information and the mindset to better understand and address problems that can undermine the rule of law, and consequently undermine peace in their communities.
Engaging youth begins with teaching them core values that can form the base for a solid moral and ethical compass, and that can drive them to engage in their communities and contribute to making them safer and better. At the primary level, E4J helps disseminate values such as acceptance, integrity, respect and fairness. At the secondary level, practical and interactive educational material helps form a basic understanding of factors around crime prevention, criminal justice and the rule of law, the core concepts of UNODC mandated areas.