31 October 2005
Chief Justices, at UNODC Gathering, Urge United Nations to Adopt Standards on Ethical Conduct by Judges
VIENNA, 31 October (UN Information Service) -- Chief Justices from around the world have called on the United Nations to adopt standards on ethical conduct by judges to help stamp out corruption.
Ending a two-day meeting hosted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) on 27-28 October, the group, known as the Judicial Integrity Group, recommended the adoption of the draft United Nations Principles on Judicial Integrity.
Present at the meeting were Chief Justices and Senior Judges from Australia, Austria, Czech Republic, Egypt, India, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and Uganda, as well as representatives of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and its Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, the German Agency for Development Cooperation (GTZ) and the Italian Superior Council of the Magistracy.
The draft United Nations Principles on Judicial Integrity are intended to establish standards for ethical conduct by judges to ensure they are independent and impartial in their work and uphold the highest judicial standards.
"The value of these Principles is that they have been developed by judges for judges," said Justice C.G. Weeramantry, former Vice President of the International Court of Justice.
"Unlike many initiatives by governments in the past to impose standards on judiciaries as a cover to tamper with judicial independence, these principles are an honest attempt at self-regulation." The integrity of the judiciary was the cornerstone of the democratic way of life, he added.
Participants agreed that corruption within the judiciary threatened its independence, impartiality and fairness and undermined the rule of law -- a key prerequisite for economic growth and the eradication of poverty. Effective protection of human rights and human security also required a well-functioning judiciary that is capable of enforcing the law and administering justice in an equitable, efficient and predictable manner.
The Judicial Integrity Group group called on UNODC to further support its work and to actively promote the adoption of the draft United Nations Principles on Judicial Integrity by judiciaries around the world.
Justice J.E. Gicheru, Chief Justice of Kenya, briefed participants on efforts to stamp out judicial corruption in his country, which involved the replacement of numerous senior judicial officials. This had been a painful process.
The Deputy Executive Director of UNODC, Sumru Noyan, said the importance of strengthening judicial integrity could not be overstated, in particular in view of the United Nations Convention against Corruption. "The supremacy of the law ultimately depends on the proper administration of justice," she said. "Without an honest and effective justice system that enjoys public trust, the rule of law cannot prevail."
The Judicial Integrity Group had provided invaluable guidance to the UNODC which had been implemented in projects in a number of countries, including Indonesia, Iran, Mozambique, Nigeria and South Africa.
"Our technical support has enhanced access to justice, improved the quality and timeliness of justice delivery, strengthened the accountability, independence and integrity of judges and judicial employees and increased public trust in the judiciary," Ms. Noyan added.
For further information, contact
Chief, Advocacy Section, UNODC
Tel: + 43 1 26060 5761