Views

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. 

 

Judicial integrity must be seen to be believed
April 14, 2022

Judicial Integrity must be seen to be believed

Each and every judge is fully aware of the importance of ensuring that court sessions are open to the public, that not even the slightest obstacle is put in the way of journalists who want to report on court cases, and that all rulings are read in an open court. These are all part of the modern interpretation of the rule of law. The interpretation that was perhaps best expressed by the English author J.B. Morton when he wrote:  "Justice must not only be seen to be done but has to be seen to be believed."

However, does not that same principle apply also to judicial integrity? Should integrity not also 'be seen to be believed'?

Integrity of the judiciary is of vital importance to the society. The integrity of a judge should be without a shadow of a doubt. But how does one actually show the integrity of a judge? How can it be 'seen to be believed' by the public? And how can the society believe in the integrity of the judiciary as an organization? A judge as an individual can be honest, honorable and incorruptible, but if their colleagues are not, and if the organization is imbued with corruption, this will reflect on that judge and will affect their work.

The Lucky Princess: The Role of Judges in Changing the Gender Narrative
March 7, 2022

The Lucky Princess: The Role of Judges in Changing the Gender Narrative

Fairy tales create strong associations and are reinforced by parental reassurance in the telling and by repeated retelling in films and fiction, which further reinforce these archetypes: goodies and baddies, brave princes and beautiful princesses, all strike powerful chords with us throughout our lives. It is no coincidence that multiple studies confirm the prevalence of strong associations between men and leadership roles, and women and nurturing roles.

We know that gender bias is a global problem. Judges have an important role in challenging the narrative that men were born to lead, women to care. Our defining role is to do justice. If the judiciary perpetuates the effects of withholding opportunity, limiting education and refusing support, then we are part of the problem. The essence of integrity includes diligence, honesty, and fairness. If we do not examine the factors that produce unfairness, there is a lack of diligence, perhaps even a dishonesty, in our wilful blindness. There are historical reasons for the gender pay gap, for the limited number of female applicants for prestigious roles, and for the continued failure of the judiciary to reflect the population over which we sit in judgment. Knowing those reasons, complacency moves towards complicity. 

The Importance of Women in the Judiciary to Integrate the Gender Perspective and Bring Equal Visibility.
March 7, 2022

The Importance of Women in the Judiciary to Integrate the Gender Perspective and Bring Equal Visibility

Historically, the legal profession was not considered suitable for women. As time progressed, so did women and today women enter this profession of choice. However, there are still not enough women in the judiciary and certainly not enough women in the superior judiciary. This paradigm must change. In the process of administration of justice and writing judgments, judges have an important role, as judicial decisions have a wide and deep impact on social constructs, social order and systematic inequalities that prevail in the system.

When judges interpret and implement the law, their reasons and opinions are a reflection of their thought process, an insight into their perceptions. These perceptions in the very least must be representative of both men and women on the bench so as to ensure a fair and adequate response through judicial decisions. It is important to note that including women in the judiciary is not simply about ensuring that her perception is relevant to resolving cases about women. It is much more than that. It is about integrating the gender perspective and giving equal visibility to women.

Whither the Men?- Gender Representation in the Jamaican Judiciary
March 7, 2022

Whither the Men?- Gender Representation in the Jamaican Judiciary

As I join in the observance of this special time set aside for the recognition of women judges, I am compelled to reflect on the journey of women judges in Jamaica, especially over the last 60 years of the country's independence from colonial rule. I have chosen to do so too against the background of the utterances of a senior male attorney-at-law, who, in or around the year 2000 - at the turn of the 21st century - remarked that women do not belong on the bench but rather at home in the kitchen. That comment evoked no response from me then because it was palpably clear that the speaker was stuck in the past with the backward perspective that rendered him utterly oblivious to the dawning of a new day for the judiciary of Jamaica. By then, more and more young women had started populating the bench in unprecedented numbers. I was one of them.

Strengthening Judicial Integrity through Inclusiveness and Diversity: A Canadian Perspective
January 18, 2022

Strengthening Judicial Integrity through Inclusiveness and Diversity: A Canadian Perspective

Diverse judiciaries produce better justice. Diversity enhances judicial thinking and perspective. Diverse judges alter the judicial discourse. Diversity and inclusivity permit interaction and discussion among colleagues who have different backgrounds, life experiences, and viewpoints. Diverse judges challenge and enhance one another's perspectives.

Inclusivity and diversity inspire and maintain public confidence in the judiciary. Public confidence is fragile. Diversity and inclusivity inspire confidence in the justice system by demonstrating a commitment to independence and impartiality. Representativeness and building trust in the judiciary is about ensuring that the public, including members of the society belonging to minority groups, see themselves reflected in the judiciary.