Achieving equality for women judges, in terms of representation at all levels of the judiciary and on policy-making judicial councils, should be our goal- not only because it is right for women, but also because it is right for the achievement of a more just rule of law. Women judges are strengthening the judiciary and helping to gain the public's trust.
The entry of women judges into spaces from which they had historically been excluded has been a positive step in the direction of judiciaries being perceived as being more transparent, inclusive, and representative of the people whose lives they affect. By their mere presence, women judges enhance the legitimacy of courts, sending a powerful signal that they are open and accessible to those who seek recourse to justice.
Judicial integrity, one of the pillars upon which rule of law rests, depends on a long list of factors which continues to be adapted in a fast-changing world. While national contexts vary, judiciaries often face comparable challenges in ensuring independence and integrity in their respective countries, and they agree on the need to ensure that guidelines on judicial matters remain current.
While the basics of judicial integrity have been agreed and enumerated in the Bangalore Principles of Judicial Conduct, the guidelines on some topical matters may not be up to the required standards. To overcome this, two big meetings were held in Seoul in December, the first organized by the Judicial Policy Research Institute of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Korea; the second, by UNODC.
Sextortion, as defined by the International Association of Women Judges (IAWJ), is the abuse of power to obtain a sexual benefit or advantage. As such, it is a form of corruption in which sex, rather than money, is the currency of the bribe. It is not limited to certain countries or sectors and can be found wherever those entrusted with power lack integrity and try to sexually exploit those who are vulnerable and dependent on their power.
The IAWJ has succinctly explained the principle underlying sextortion as follows: what distinguishes sextortion from other types of sexually abusive conduct is that it has both a sexual component and a corruption component. The sexual component of sextortion arises from a request - whether implicit or explicit - to engage in any kind of unwanted sexual activity, ranging from sexual intercourse to exposing private body parts.
While the pace of developments in technology continues to accelerate to the great pleasure of many, it does present challenges to certain categories of professional disciplines whose nature does not lend itself well to much flexibility; with the preservation of judicial integrity at the helm of their principles, many judges may have difficulty embracing rapid innovation.
Judges must comply with legal and ethical ramifications which other professions may not face when using technology. This is particularly the case when considering social media platforms, which have become ubiquitous in the last few years; inserting themselves into people's mundane activities, they allow instant communication with family, friends and total strangers, the sharing of holiday photos and funny memes, and the ability of commenting on news stories.
The effectiveness of any judiciary depends upon its perceived legitimacy, especially in the eyes of the public. This perception requires not only that the judges uphold the highest standards of integrity and independence, but also that states respect judicial independence and do not undermine judicial decisions.
A successful judiciary is one whose members are appointed following a rigorous process assessing both the candidate's legal qualifications as well as integrity. Different countries' constitutions and other laws provide for different requirements, but it is crucial that only the best people are appointed to judicial positions. Judiciaries should not be politicized - this means that ruling parties should not appoint judges who will be answerable to them and not to the constitution and members of the public.