As a judge, I think of window cleaning whenever the issue of transparency arises; it gives me perspective. Granted, the mere sound of the word sometimes provokes fear or nervousness. Perhaps we feel that our own privacy would be so invaded that we could no longer enjoy it. Or perhaps being transparent demands a vulnerability which we would be terrified to show. But as judges, we ask society to trust that we will make sound judgments. Judgments which many can neither read nor understand, and which are given by persons whose existence they discover only when the appointment makes the news. Once appointed, we so often fail to appreciate society's fear of an institution which, for far too long, has tried to foster respect through strange rituals and aloofness; an institution whose members stand firmly on their 'independence,' sometimes unwilling to accept that each and every one of us has dependencies, for no man is an island.
It has been less than a year since its launch, but the Global Judicial Integrity Network has been in full active mode, consolidating its platform and multiplying initiatives to advance the notion and the application of judicial integrity around the globe. Fruitful deliberations on the Network's past, present and future were held in Doha this past week, with members of the Network's Advisory Board assessing the achievements made thus far, and agreeing on forthcoming efforts to continue promoting its vital work. Hosting the meeting, Dr. Hassan bin Lahdan Alhassan Almohanadi, Chief Justice of the Supreme Judiciary Council of the State of Qatar, recognized the Board as including some of the world's key legal minds, brought together to tackle issues such as judicial conduct and anti-corruption.
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.