This section contains opinion pieces written by Global Judicial Integrity Network participants, who are members of judiciaries worldwide. The pieces focus on the personal opinions and experiences of these external experts on issues related to judicial integrity. All opinion pieces written in 2018-2019 have been compiled in one review journal, available here. To read a selection of the articles in other UN languages, please select the language from the navigation bar at the top of the page. Please click here for Portuguese and Korean.
Please note that all opinions expressed in this section of the website are the opinions of the authors, who are external experts, and do not necessarily reflect the official position of UNODC.
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.
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.
As a District Court Judge with a passion for judicial education, I recently discovered a new dimension of teaching, and with it a newfound confidence in myself. Although I had been conducting trainings of judges at the Punjab Judicial Academy in Lahore and the Federal Judicial Academy in Islamabad for several years, I had never attempted to train judges on judicial conduct and ethics. The mere idea of standing on a podium and lecturing them on ethics felt like a huge challenge.
My participation in a "Train-the-Trainer's Workshop," in UNODC headquarters in Vienna, under the auspices of the Global Judicial Integrity Network, changed my perspective and my disposition. The workshop introduced me to different training techniques and methodologies, allowing judicial trainers to handle various learning styles.
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.