As the guardian of the Nelson Mandela Rules (by which the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners are commonly known), UNODC has since long provided technical assistance to Member States on prison reform. With its Prisoner Rehabilitation initiative, a component of the Global Programme for the Implementation of the Doha Declaration, UNODC has also been assisting Member States with the integration of new approaches to prison management and to prisoner rehabilitation.
Judging from the eager interactions of so many judges and judicial experts gathered under one roof in Doha last week, the importance and appeal of UNODC's Global Judicial Integrity Network, launched in Vienna in 2018, continues to grow. During a three-day high-level meeting held under the patronage of Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Emir of Qatar, Chief Justices and senior judges from around the world debated the hottest judicial integrity-related topics affecting their remits, and the myriad challenges facing judiciaries in their quest to apply justice.
UNODC's Line Up, Live Up initiative, developed by the Global Programme for the Implementation of the Doha Declaration, has been gaining popularity around the world with its innovative use of lessons on both the physical and intellectual levels to keep youngsters away from trouble. Last month, over 600 students in Uzbekistan completed the training in 18 different schools in Andijan, Namangan and Fergana. The students learned how to resist social pressures which could lead them to engage in delinquency; they also learned how to cope with anxiety, and how to communicate effectively with peers through a set of fun and interactive exercises.
Penitentiary systems around the world, often with the support of UNODC, are increasingly adopting innovative practices to rehabilitate prisoners before their reinsertion into society. Moving away from traditional sentences meant to merely punish, such programmes are aimed at re-educating prisoners and helping them avoid recidivism, while preparing them to sustain themselves financially and make a positive contribution to society. UNODC's Global Programme for the Implementation of the Doha Declaration has implemented numerous types of rehabilitative programmes in the prisons of participating Member States, ranging from vocational trainings and certifications to manufacturing.
Judges are the public face of justice and of the rule of law. As such, they have a duty to live up to the highest standards of integrity and impartiality in order to preserve public trust in what is a most fundamental pillar of democracy.
Codes of conduct are a pivotal instrument to translate core values into behavioural norms. They do not only have an aspirational nature, showing the best path to resolve ethical dilemmas, but they must also be effectively implemented in practice. In keeping with safeguarding judicial independence, implementation must come first and foremost from within the judiciary itself.