Ahead of international launch in 2018, Namibia hosts final regional preparatory meeting for justice system anti-corruption initiative

17 October 2017 - The final regional preparatory meeting for the upcoming Global Judicial Integrity Network (GJIN) was held in Namibia for Anglophone and Lusophone African countries. From 16 to 17 October, Chief Justices and senior judges from 17 countries gathered to add their voices to what will be the world's first-ever global platform dedicated exclusively to upholding judicial integrity and preventing corruption within the justice system once launched in April 2018. This response is directly in line with the Global Sustainable Development Goal 16, to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.  This meeting served to explore increased access and accountability within the justice system, to in turn address the global targets of Goal 16.

It is no exaggeration to say that without integrity our judicial systems will disintegrate, and become empty shells that are unable to carry out their sacred constitutional mandate", noted Chief Justice Shivute. "To ensure that integrity becomes the bedrock of all our work and interactions as judicial officers, we must continually inculcate the values of honesty, fairness and justice in all that we do".

Adding to this, Ms. Akisheva said, "The judiciary plays a crucial role in combatting corruption, but in order to fulfil this, they themselves must be free from corruption. This final preparatory meeting provides members of the judiciaries in Anglophone and Lusophone speaking African countries an important forum to discuss challenges being faced and expectations towards what the Network will offer".

Reflecting the international linkages that will make the GJIN so valuable in helping share cross-border solutions to common problems, the meeting was also joined by the Honourable President Chief Justice of the Peoples' Supreme Court of Cuba, Ruben Remigio Ferro. In his keynote address the Chief Justice shared his thoughts on this issue. "The mission of judges is not to be simple enforcers of norms and dispositions to the case before them, but also implies the duty to do so with a clear notion and sense of what is fair". He also added that in his experience in Cuba, "exercising judicial power implies, in turn, the commitment to comply with judicial duty".

The meeting proved highly fruitful and over the two days participants shared a vast array of innovative approaches which have been taken to effectively implement Codes of Conduct and hold judges accountable. Attendees also spoke of specific challenges which need to be overcome, including continuous attempts of the executive and the legislature in some countries to interfere with judicial decision-making and judicial appointments, among others. Ultimately the participants welcomed the proposal to launch a GJIN as a platform to allow for further exchange around issues of mutual concern, to access resources and capacity building opportunities and to develop new tools.

In addition to this preparatory meeting, Swakopmund is also host to two other important regional judicial events this week. The inaugural Southern African Judicial Administrators Association and the Southern African Chief Justices Forum's Annual General Meeting are both taking place, providing further focus on this key group.

The creation of the GJIN is part of UNODC's Global Programme for the Implementation of the Doha Declaration, which was adopted by the 13 th UN Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice in 2015. The Global Programme provides support and technical assistance to Member States across the world in areas of judicial integrity, prisoners' rehabilitation, youth crime prevention, and education for justice, all with the objective of promoting a culture of lawfulness and boosting respect for the rule of law.

Additional resources: 
Chairman's conclusions

Global Judicial Integrity Network 
UNODC's anti-corruption work

© UNODC/Public Relations Office, Namibian Judiciary