The year 2020 has been a challenging one for people across the globe, with COVID-19 impacting individuals and entire societies physically, mentally, socially and financially in an unprecedented manner.
For those in prison though, as well as for the officers in charge of looking after them, the pandemic has proven even more potentially devastating. With factors such as poor hygiene conditions and oftentimes overcrowding, living and working in close proximity makes it near impossible to follow recommended measures, such as frequent handwashing and social distancing.
The French National School for the Judiciary ( École Nationale de la Magistrature - ENM) was created in 1958 to train both judges and public prosecutors. The School simultaneously trains three classes ("promotions") of about 350 students for 31 months.
In March 2020, when home confinement was imposed in France to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, the three classes were approaching different stages in their training.
Trainee judges and prosecutors from Promotion 2018 were taking their final exams before choosing their first positions, while students from Promotion 2019 were beginning a key step in their training in the form of a year-long judicial internship in one of the 173 French courts. As for the students of Promotion 2020 that had just entered the School in February 2020, they were about to begin a 9-month period of study at the School in Bordeaux.
Recognizing the value of sports in advancing peace and development, UNODC's Regional Office for Central Asia (ROCA) this week launched a new outreach campaign designed to build youth resilience towards drugs, crime and violence. Developed in partnership with Uzbekistan's National Olympic Committee as well as Government authorities and other UN entities, the new campaign - 'I Choose Sport' - is centred around a series of social-focussed videos and features several Uzbek sports champions as positive role models for the country's youth.
For courts and judges, both information technology (IT) and artificial intelligence (AI) offer new opportunities, but they also entail major new challenges. The most important challenge is to the governing of judiciaries. Governance, the way decisions are taken and by whom, is mainly determined by two factors: judicial independence and case processing. Judiciaries are geared toward judicial independence. Although procedures vary from country to country, in most situations governance mechanisms will leave room for individual judges to decide their cases on the merits of the cases. Judiciaries process cases, so they are also mainly production organizations, as they work to process court cases as efficiently as possible. Both these elements reduce the opportunities for innovation. From this perspective, let's take a look at the new challenges IT and AI pose for courts and judiciaries.
Had it not been for the COVID-19 global pandemic, UNODC's headquarters would have been swarming this past week with academics, educators, experts, and representatives from international organizations and multinational corporations for the largest conference ever held under United Nations auspices to discuss the crucial link between education and the rule of law.
Instead, over 2,100 participants from 109 countries gathered virtually, and safely, for the unprecedented Global Dialogue Series launched by UNODC's Education for Justice (E4J) initiative on 1 December, debating the forward-looking perspectives ensuing from the pandemic to reimagine education for peaceful, just, and inclusive societies.