The concept of judicial independence, in its theoretical sense, may appear to be a banal and non-contentious issue. However, when it is put into practice in the discharge of one's duties as a judge it becomes a loaded issue which is critical in the delivery of real and substantial justice. The reality is that the institutional independence of the judiciary goes to the very root of the ethical and constitutional obligation owed by a judge in exercising their duty of care to those parties who appear before them. It is essential, however, that the judge feels unencumbered by the possibility of negative consequences which may flow from the decision which they may make.
There are many aspects to crime worldwide, many of which were discussed and considered by hundreds of experts during the 28 th Session of the United Nations Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, held this week in Vienna. Like the other components of the Global Programme for the Implementation of the Doha Declaration, the Judicial Integrity initiative was active in numerous discussions and held side events to consider specific aspects having great impact on justice, namely judicial independence and gender and diversity.
In all these aspects related to judicial integrity, the Global Judicial Integrity Network plays an important role in creating a space for discussion and for sharing experiences and resources.
Being a judge in our current society is enormously complex. We are required not only to be good judges, who are in continuous training, but also to be close to the citizens and societal problems. We must demonstrate impartiality, independence, courtesy, diligence, responsibility and a constant commitment to public exemplariness that transmits security and confidence in the judiciary to society as a whole. We must awaken in ourselves a special sensitivity to many issues in our daily lives that, in some way, could compromise our jurisdictional function.
The European Network of Councils for the Judiciary (ENCJ) believes that councils and judiciaries should assume a new role to achieve a better balance of power and to strengthen the position of the judiciary, which necessitates expressing and explaining the role of an independent and accountable judiciary, within a state governed by the rule of law. In addition, councils for the judiciary should be instrumental in helping educate society about what judges do, and it is therefore essential for the councils and the judiciaries to develop their communication with the general public.
Last week, the head of UNODC's Global Programme for the Implementation of the Doha Declaration, Marco Teixeira, was interviewed by MTV (one of the most prominent regional channels in Lebanon and the Arab world), on its renowned MTV Alive show. He spoke about the Global Programme's mission to promote a culture of lawfulness, through the various activities and resources of its four components. Below are some excerpts from the interview (edited for clarity).