Drafting Judicial Codes of Conduct

During the launch event, a dedicated thematic breakout session took place on Do's and Don't's when drafting codes of judicial conduct. The session participants agreed that there is a need for the development of effective codes of conduct for judges and that it would be helpful to develop a guide on how to do so.

Guide on Drafting Judicial Codes of Conduct


Following the launch event, the Advisory Board of the Global Judicial Integrity Network developed the Network's 2018-2019 workplan and decided, among other priority areas, to use the potential of the Network to develop a practical guide on how to develop codes of judicial conduct.

Judicial integrity is a cornerstone of strong judicial systems and a necessary prerequisite for the rule of law, the right to a fair trial and the public trust in the judiciary. Existing international standards and best practices provide a number of techniques that can be adopted to strengthen the integrity of the judiciary and prevent corruption in the justice sector. The practice promoted in this guide is the adoption of a code of judicial conduct.

The main international instrument promoting the adoption of codes of judicial conduct is the United Nations Convention against Corruption. In its article 11, the Convention states that: " bearing in mind the independence of the judiciary and its crucial role in combating corruption, each State Party shall, in accordance with the fundamental principles of its legal system and without prejudice to judicial independence, take measures to strengthen integrity and to prevent opportunities for corruption among the members of the judiciary. Such measures may include rules with respect to the conduct of members of the judiciary". The fact that the adoption of a code of judicial conduct is a measure explicitly promoted in the text of the Convention shows that Member States considered it to be a crucial aspect of the efforts to strengthen judicial integrity.

This guide intends to provide practical information on how to draft, approve and enforce a code of conduct for the judiciary. Its purpose is twofold, namely: a) to offer advice on the procedural steps that could be considered when developing a code of conduct and developing mechanisms to enforce it ("How"); and b) to provide guidance on the possible substantive content, based on the content of the Bangalore Principles of Judicial Conduct and relevant examples from other regional and national instruments, as well as on the possible structure and scope of the code ("What").

It should be noted at the outset that it is not intended for this guide to be prescriptive as to the concrete procedural steps, terminology, legal nature, structure, scope and enforcement measures. This guide only promotes that it is important to adopt an instrument that establishes and clarifies standards of behaviour for judges and to set up institutional mechanisms for enforcing the instrument. Please note that translations are now available in Russian and Spanish.


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Advancing justice - and gender equality - through the Global Judicial Integrity Network
Resource Database Sources

The Global Judicial Integrity Network has compiled useful resources on drafting codes of conduct, as well as judicial codes of conduct themselves, which are available in the online resource database.


Advancing justice - and gender equality - through the Global Judicial Integrity Network
Podcast: Drafting and Implementing Judicial Codes of Conduct

Justice Adrian Saunders, President of the Caribbean Court of Justice and Global Judicial Integrity Network Advisory Board Member, discusses his experiences in the Caribbean region with drafting and implementing judicial codes of ethics, including tips for conducting judicial ethics training.


Advancing justice - and gender equality - through the Global Judicial Integrity Network
'Views' Article: Judicial Misconduct and Public Confidence in the Rule of Law

David J. Sachar of the National Center for State Courts discusses how to address judicial misconduct in codes of conduct. 




Robert Deyling, Assistant General Counsel, Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts

"This practical guide will help courts create ethical codes that promote public confidence in the integrity of the judiciary. The comprehensive guidance focuses not only on the essential elements of a code of conduct for judges, but also on ways to promote an ethical judicial culture by providing judges with high-quality education and advice concerning their individual ethical obligations. In that regard, the guide emphasizes the importance of providing confidential ethics advice to judges, whether formal or informal, through the creation of judicial ethics committees, commissions, or similar advisory bodies."