IBA publishes new report on maintaining judicial integrity and ethical standards in practice

Monday 21 June 2021

‘With this report, the IBA has provided a valuable tool that policymakers, members of the judiciary and academia can use to evaluate the success of existing efforts to combat judicial misconduct and corruption, and to help create and define effective policies for the future.’

An extract from the Foreword by
Judge José Igreja Matos
President of the European Association of Judges
Member of the Advisory Board of the Global Judicial Integrity Network

As awareness of the importance of judicial accountability increases globally, a new report published by the International Bar Association (IBA) focuses on the concrete processes available to hold judges to account for any misconduct; whether warranting disciplinary action or criminal sanctions.

The urgent issue of judicial corruption, which negatively affects the effective administration of justice and undermines the rule of law, was discussed by judges and legal experts at the online launch event of ‘Maintaining judicial integrity and ethical standards in practice: an IBA study on criminal and disciplinary measures’, on, 21 June 2021. Click here to watch a recording of the discussion.

In a 2012 report by Gabriela Knaul, the former United Nations-appointed Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, she stated, ‘Judicial corruption erodes the principles of independence, impartiality and integrity of the judiciary; infringes on the right to a fair trial; creates obstacles to the effective and efficient administration of justice; and undermines the credibility of the entire justice system.’

In 2015, at the behest of then-IBA-President David W Rivkin, the IBA embarked on the Judicial Integrity Initiative (JII), which sought to use the resources and experience of the IBA’s global network of legal professionals to contribute to work already undertaken in countering corruption in judiciaries worldwide. At the time, Mr Rivkin, partner at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, said:

‘Corruption in judiciaries is a problem on every continent. Where it occurs, this corruption undermines the rule of law and civil society, because it causes citizens to lose faith in the ability of government to assist them. And where judicial corruption exists, it is impossible to eliminate corruption in other aspects of government. This issue requires the attention and resolve of the legal profession as a whole to overcome it, and the IBA, as the global association of lawyers and bar associations, can uniquely contribute to the fight against judicial corruption’.

In 2016, the key findings of the initial phase of the JII were published, which included identifying the patterns underlying corrupt behaviour in the judiciary, the types of corruption that affect judicial systems and the roles played by the various professionals operating within them.

The 2021 310-page study, constituting the second phase of the JII, aims to:

  • develop a straightforward approach to the assessment of the judiciary’s compliance with the integrity benchmark as defined at the international level (eg, Bangalore Principles and Article 11 of the United Nations Convention against Corruption);
  • analyse compliance with national legislation and practices that either enhance or hinder the accountability of judges; and
  • test the effectiveness of the questionnaire adopted to conduct this study in developing a tool that policymakers, members of the judiciary, academia and experts could use to evaluate how misconduct or corruption by judges is investigated, prosecuted and sanctioned through internal disciplinary systems and under criminal law.

The questionnaire was used in five countries – Costa Rica, France, Ghana, the Philippines and the United Kingdom and was developed by the IBA Legal Policy & Research Unit (LPRU) in conjunction with the Research Institute in Judicial Systems of the National Research Council in Italy and the National Center for State Courts in the United States, along with colleagues and researchers in the five aforementioned countries.

Recommendations in the report include:

  • further research and collaboration among relevant stakeholders to develop a more comprehensive guide to the implementation of the Bangalore Principles;
  • further research and collaboration among relevant stakeholders to develop guidelines on the interrelationship between the criminal and judicial authorities in addressing judicial corruption; and
  • revision of the research questionnaire to address the areas where there are gaps or a lack of clarity, and to develop some simple guidelines on using the questionnaire in full or selectively.

Judge Matos commented: ‘Lawyers are always on the frontline of protecting the Rule of Law: without it, those human rights that are enshrined in the law cannot be guaranteed. Therefore, for us as judges, a close and strong partnership with lawyers constitutes a decisive factor in enhancing the protection of the fundamental rights of our fellow citizens. In this context, the present report represents an outstanding example of our shared common values.’

The online launch event takes place on Monday 21 June 2021 from 1300 – 1400 BST. Speakers include (in alphabetical order):

  • Rosanna Amato, Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, Institute of Legal Informatics and Judicial Systems of the National Research Council of Italy (previously IRSIG-CNR)
  • Josè Igreja Matos, President of European Association of Judges/First Vice President of International Association of Judges
  • David W Rivkin, Former IBA President, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP
  • Vanessa Ruiz, Immediate Past President of the International Association of Women Judges and Senior Judge of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals
  • Tatiana Veress, Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Officer, UN Office on Drugs and Crime


  • Sara Carnegie, IBA Director Legal Projects
  • Maria Pia Sacco, IBA LPRU Senior Project Lawyer

A PDF of the report will be available to download from the IBA website after the launch event from this link.


Notes to the Editor

  1. Click here (after the launch event) to download a copy of: Maintaining judicial integrity and ethical standards in practice: an IBA study on criminal and disciplinary measures.
  2. Related material:
  3. The IBA Legal Policy & Research Unit (LPRU) undertakes research and develops and implements innovative strategies and initiatives that are relevant to current contemporary global issues.

    Members of the team have particular areas of expertise, including legal ethics and compliance, anti-corruption, business and human rights, criminal law, cybersecurity and technological innovation, such as the use of blockchain in the legal profession. This expertise continues to be developed through project-based work, research, publications and policy development. The team engages with IBA members, legal professionals, international organisations, bar associations and governments to develop and consolidate the global network through which it can conduct its work to ensure the most efficient outcome.

  4. The International Bar Association (IBA), the global voice of the legal profession, is the foremost organisation for international legal practitioners, bar associations and law societies. Established in 1947, shortly after the creation of the United Nations, it was born out of the conviction that an organisation made up of the world's bar associations could contribute to global stability and peace through the administration of justice.

    The IBA acts as a connector, enabler, and influencer, for the administration of justice, fair practice, and accountability worldwide. The IBA has collaborated on a broad range of ground-breaking, international projects with the United Nations, the European Parliament, the Council of Europe, The Commonwealth, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, among others.

    The IBA has considerable expertise in providing assistance to the global legal community, and through its global membership, it influences the development of international law reform and helps to shape the future of the legal profession throughout the world.

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For further information, please contact:

Romana St. Matthew - Daniel
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