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.
If this perception is wrong and influenced by scandals and isolated cases, judiciaries still need to work to correct this perception, and they can do it 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 fulfil 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 under the Prosperity Fund and the ASEAN Economic Reform Programme, UNDP is nurturing the Judicial Integrity Network in ASEAN, which supports target countries in pursuing judicial reforms, focusing particularly on transparency, accountability, integrity, accessibility and court excellence, and promoting knowledge exchange and peer-support.
Main achievements 2017-2019:
- The Judicial Integrity Network was established in 2018, with Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand as founding members. Viet Nam later joined the Network in 2019. During the Second Network Meeting in March 2019, members of the Network reiterated their interest in the Network activities, proposing ways to increase national ownership (i.e. rotating secretariat) and suggesting areas where they would like the Network to offer further capacity building.
- In response to the need for guidance identified by the Network, 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 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 is providing technical assistance to implement the recommendations resulting from it.
Main objectives of the second phase of the Project:
- Supporting the further development and strengthening of the “Judicial Integrity Network in ASEAN” as a means for sharing knowledge, good practices and tools to enhance judicial integrity, transparency and other aspects of court excellence which will build public trust.
- Supporting courts in the target countries to enhance judicial integrity, transparency and court excellence, through self-assessments facilitated by peers and experts members of the Network, using the International Framework for Court Excellence and Judicial Integrity Checklist.
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