Judicial Integrity

 

The judiciary has a primary responsibility to deliver justice for all and curb corruption, contributing to achieving two fundamentals targets of the Sustainable Development Goal 16 on Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions.

With the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, judiciaries from around the world are called to join forces and support each other in developing mechanisms that help deliver justice for all. This can be made possible through initiatives fostering transparency, promoting integrity and increasing public trust without impeding the independence of the judiciary at the same time.

Corruption and lack of integrity in the judiciary are major impediments to justice delivery and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. According to Transparency International’s Global Corruption Barometer 2017, citizens around the world perceive the judiciary as one of the most corruption-prone sectors, with 30% of the respondents believing that most judges and magistrates are corrupt. The poorest and most marginalized citizens are the ones who suffer most, as they are less likely to pay bribes and have limited access to influential networks. Besides hampering public confidence in the institutions and undermining stability in fragile contexts, corruption and lack of integrity in the judiciary also constitute a human rights violation.

Judiciaries can correct this perception by embracing initiatives to promote transparency, integrity, community engagement and open justice.

UNDP is supporting judiciaries in ASEAN to promote transparency, integrity, and accountability and to fulfill their obligations under article 11 of the United Nations Convention against Corruption.

As part of the projects Judicial Excellence to ensure Justice for All: The Judicial Integrity Network in ASEAN, supported by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), and Promoting a Fair Business Environment in ASEAN, supported by the UK Government ASEAN Economic Reform Programme, UNDP is nurturing this network of judges, which supports target countries in pursuing judicial reforms, focusing particularly on transparency, accountability, integrity, accessibility, and court excellence, promoting knowledge exchange and peer-support.

 

Main achievements 2017-2021:

  • The Judicial Integrity Network, “A Network for Judges by Judges” was established in 2018, with Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, and Thailand as founding members.
  • In 2018, UNDP and the International Consortium for Court Excellence produced the Judicial Integrity Checklist, a tool specifically designed to complement the International Framework for Court Excellence (IFCE), to support judiciaries in taking active steps to promote transparency, integrity, and accountability within their courts, as part of the broader quality management systems. The tool was piloted in Malaysia and the experience was shared in 2019 with the members of the Network, to reflect on the benefits of its implementation, as well as to identify areas for improvement both in the tool per se and in the process of implementing it. Following the conclusion for the self-assessment, UNDP provided technical assistance to implement the recommendations resulting from it.
  • In 2019, at the second Regional Network Meeting, hosted by the Supreme Court of Indonesia, Viet Nam joined the Network. Network members expressed interest in learning more technologies and the judiciary, as well as gender issues.
  • In 2020, the Judicial Integrity Network supported Thailand to conduct and adapt the International Framework for Court Excellence’s Self Assessment. The Judicial Integrity Checklist was updated in 2020 and it was also integrated and mainstreamed into the third version of the ICCE judicial integrity self-assessment.
  • In May 2020 the Judicial Integrity Network in ASEAN organized an online panel discussion on “Justice in Times of COVID-19”, attended by over 2000 judges, court administrators, and court staff from the region and beyond. The discussion touched upon the new technologies adopted by courts in the region to deliver justice in the changed context. They open up opportunities for open justice, but also bring up challenges, as discussed in the blog: “ A “new possible” for justice after COVID-19: towards digital, open and inclusive courts”.
  • In January 2021 the Advisory Group of the Judicial Integrity Network reconvened and welcomed a new member: Justice Shiranee Tilakawardane. The Advisory Group endorsed two research projects to be finalized by September 2021: Gendered Threats to Judicial Integrity and Emerging Technologies and Judicial Integrity.

 

Project overview

Status: Ongoing
Implementation period: Sep 2017 – Aug 2019 (Phase One), Oct 2019 – Sep 2021 (Phase Two)
Target countries: Lao PDR, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam
Project office: UNDP Bangkok Regional Hub
Key partners: The International Consortium on Court Excellence (ICCE), the Global Judicial Integrity Network, the Council of ASEAN Chief Justices
Funding support by: The Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), the United States Department of State

Contact: Liviana Zorzi, Project Specialist, UNDP Bangkok Regional Hub (liviana.zorzi@undp.org); Sarah McCoubrey, Judicial Integrity Consultant, UNDP Bangkok Regional Hub (sarah.mccoubrey@undp.org)

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