The Hon. Anisa Dhanji (UK) Wrote an Article for UK’s Judicial College on the Global Judicial Integrity Network

The IAWJ is a collaborator on the UNODC’s Global Judicial Integrity Network. IAWJ member, Judge Dhanji wrote an article about the network for UK’s Judicial College in order to raise awareness of the network and its importance.

When historians write about the social, cultural, and intellectual forces that shape the world in a particular age, they have the advantage of the perspective that time and hindsight offer. Judges and others, entrusted to serve the public, have the challenge of doing so when the goal posts are still moving. We also, however, have the great privilege of shaping that world, and leading in a way that others might be inspired to follow. The responsibility for upholding a nation’s justice system, is weighty and self-evident, but day to day, it can be easily forgotten as we labour under the demands of an ever-increasing workload, with ever-reducing resources.

In her article, Judge Dhanji writes about the social and technological changes that the world is currently facing and how they affect judges and the judiciary. She also mentions that “transformations of prevailing social norms, reflected particularly (though not only), in our changing expectations about gender roles, and indeed about gender itself, are inescapable.”

The Hon. Anisa Dhanji addresses, with concern, the current erosion of trust in the judiciary. “Our system of justice functions largely on voluntary compliance. If traditional deference cannot be assumed, respect needs to be constantly re-earned, and fiercely safeguarded against reputational damage and threats to our independence. The rule of law and the public’s reliance on law as a mechanism for resolving disputes depends on confidence in the judiciary,” she adds. It is key, then, for judges to apply to their own conduct, the standards of integrity and ethics that they profess.

When discussing, the increasing scrutiny judges are being subjected to today, she mentions codes of conduct as “one way to provide common standards and accountability. … To be effective, though, there needs to be shared expectations about the standards of judicial conduct, and a shared commitment to applying, valuing and protecting them.” The Global Judicial Integrity Network plays a role in this by creating a space for judicial officers to discuss challenges, good practices, and lessons learned on judicial integrity.

Where there is common ground, however, is that gender is an area where norms about appropriate conduct continue to shift, and also, that when it comes to gender-related misconduct, there is plenty of evidence that the judiciary still has a lot to learn. Because judges are rightly held to a higher standard, it is not enough to say that just because conduct is not unlawful, it is appropriate. As with all integrity issues, the judiciary must be exemplary. Indeed, the public may find it hard to accept the judiciary as the guarantor of law and human rights if judges themselves are seen to act in a discriminatory or sexist manner.

Judge Dhanji ends the article by stating that “encouraging people to examine their own behaviour and to make changes, is never easy, but if the alternative is the judiciary of the 21st century being viewed as elitist, exclusive, and oblivious to changes in society, then there is much to appreciate and support in the Network’s initiative.”

You find read the full article here.