In October 2018, the Southern African Chief Justices' Forum (SACJF) formally adopted the Lilongwe Principles and Guidelines on the Selection and Appointment of Judicial Officers. The Lilongwe Principles and Guidelines, which have previously been discussed in a 'Views' piece by Justice Sanji Monageng, are significant, as they are the first such guidelines to be developed in Africa, by an African institution, in response to specific circumstances that pertain to Africa. Thus, the adoption of the Lilongwe Principles and Guidelines is an embodiment of the spirit of finding African solutions to Africa's governance challenges.
There is global consensus that the core conduct characteristics necessary for an effective and principled judiciary are independence, impartiality, integrity, propriety, equality, competence and diligence. Most judiciaries have formally pledged to uphold these principles, laid out in detail by the Bangalore Principles of Judicial Conduct, one of the basic documents through which the Global Judicial Integrity Network promotes the rule of law.
Despite many judiciaries' best efforts to sustain lawfulness, however, potential impediments can hinder judges' ability to carry out their functions; this can come through pressure of various kinds, both intended (as a deliberate attempt to influence judges) and unintended (through circumstances which may lead judges to be restrained in their decisions).
Judicial misconduct breaks down the very fibre of what is necessary for a functional judiciary- citizens who believe their judges are fair and impartial. The judiciary cannot exist without the trust and confidence of the people. Judges must, therefore, be accountable to legal and ethical standards. In holding them accountable for their behaviour, judicial conduct review must be performed without invading the independence of judicial decision-making. This task can be daunting.
Mr. David J. Sachar, Executive Director of the Judicial Discipline and Disciplinary Commission in Arkansas, United States and Advisory Board Member of the National Center for State Courts, recently shared his views on judicial misconduct with UNODC, as part of the Organization's on-going work to exchange good practices in the investigation of misconduct.
For more than three decades, information and communications technology (ICT) advancements have burst into the operations of courts and prosecutors' offices promising transparency, efficiency and radical changes to working practices, such as paperless courts. Even if in most jurisdictions such promises have yet to be fulfilled, software programmes and algorithms are already executing growing chunks of judicial procedures. The impacts such technologies have on the functioning of justice systems and the values endorsed by the Bangalore Principles of Judicial Conduct are mostly positive.
Confidence in the rule of law is a basic element of a culture of lawfulness, and the promotion of judicial independence, transparency and integrity is of utmost importance to UNODC's Global Programme for the Implementation of the Doha Declaration, which works with judiciaries around the world to this end. The Programme's Senior Officer, Marco Teixeira, was invited last month to Argentina to discuss the objectives of the Doha Declaration, at the Judicial Council of the City of Buenos Aires. Mr. Teixeira presented the four components of the Programme, and in particular the work of the Judicial Integrity pillar and the activities of the Global Judicial Integrity Network : "The Global Judicial Integrity Network is a unique platform that provides peer to peer learning and connects judges worldwide".