Vienna, 9 April 2018 - The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is launching today its Global Judicial Integrity Network in the presence of Chief Justices, judges and judicial professionals from around the world. Over 350 high-level members of the judiciary have gathered for this two-day event to discuss key topics with peers from other Member States, and to present recommendations on strengthening judicial integrity at the global level. The Network will provide a platform for judges to share good practices and lessons learned, and to support each other and join forces in developing new tools and guidelines for strengthening integrity and preventing corruption in the judicial system.
The Network's launch is the result of consultations with approximately 4,000 judges worldwide and seven regional preparatory meetings over a two-year period. The Network will serve as a platform to assist judiciaries everywhere to uphold judicial integrity, promote knowledge-building and peer learning, as well as provide access to a large database of thousands of resources, good practices and other judicial documents for immediate reference.
In a video message, Amina J. Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, said: "This Network brings together lead institutions responsible for upholding the rule of law, and as such for attaining peace and justice."
Her remarks were echoed in UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov's message, as he added: "Judges need the opportunity to share experiences, exchange good practices and support each other. The Network will continue to serve as a resource for addressing new and emerging challenges, such as those posed by social media and other technological developments."
Justice Elisabeth Lovrek, Vice-President of Austria's Supreme Court, which will co-host with the Supreme Judicial Council of Qatar a social event for delegations at the Palace of Justice in Vienna, told participants she was glad the launch was taking place in Vienna, noting: "The Network will strengthen judicial cooperation between courts and tribunals from different legal and cultural traditions. In an increasingly globalized world, this is more important than ever."
Chief and senior justices from Austria, Brazil, Lebanon, Malaysia, Nigeria and the United States addressed the opening session, declaring their support for the Network. Chief Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen of Nigeria stressed that the Network could not have come at a better time, adding: "It is time to develop global measures and mechanisms for the attainment and sustenance of the prescribed integrity. Accepted global standards and measures have persuasive force. They empower national champions of judicial integrity, providing ready tools and weapons."
A plenary session on the Network's specific role in promoting judicial integrity was addressed by Diego García-Sayán, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers; Christophe Régnard, President of the International Association of Judges; and Judge Rudolf Mellinghoff, President of the Federal Court of Finance of Germany and Member of the Judicial Integrity Group, which is the group of judges that initiated the dialogue on corruption in the justice system in 2000 and developed the Bangalore Principles of Judicial Conduct.
This first gathering of the Network will discuss and seek solutions for some of the key challenges confronting judiciaries today, ranging from undue political interference by the executive and legislature into judicial appointments and decisions, reducing budgets in the face of exploding case-loads and corruption in the justice sector, as well as diminishing public confidence. Substantive sessions will cover an array of measures to help judiciaries tackle those challenges such as developing codes of conduct; establishing functioning disciplinary bodies and proceedings; balancing accountability and independence; assessing integrity in the justice system; introducing financial disclosure rules for judges; educating judges on the use of social media; enhancing transparency; the impact of digitalization on judicial integrity, judicial appointments and judicial training.
The Network is supported through UNODC's Global Programme for the Implementation of the Doha Declaration, a four-year initiative aimed at promoting a culture of lawfulness and rule of law. For more information, please visit: www.unodc.org/ji.
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