IBA Judicial Integrity Initiative

The IBA LPRU, in partnership with the Basel Institute on Governance, has published The International Bar Association Judicial Integrity Initiative: Judicial Systems and CorruptionThe report has been created using the results of a global survey that involved 1,577 legal professionals from 120 countries, in country consultations and additional research.

The report identifies 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. In particular, it focuses on concerns about bribery and also undue influence on judicial decisions, and the impact that these problems have on respect for the judiciary and for government as a whole.

The report has already received a lot of attention. IBA President, David W Rivkin, and the Chairman of the Basel Institute on Governance, Professor Mark Pieth, presented an analysis of the report on 15 June 2016 at the IBA/OECD Anti-Bribery Conference in Paris. Rivkin also discussed the report in his speech at the Vatican Conference on Human Trafficking and Corruption.

The Director of the IBA’s Legal Policy & Research Unit, Jane Ellis, provided an overview of the report at an event, Who Judges the Judges? Accountability for Judicial Corruption and Judicial Complicity, held at the United Nations in Geneva during the Human Rights Council session on 14 June 2016. Other panel members were: Monica Pinto, Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers; Thulani Maseko, Lawyer, Swaziland (imprisoned by judges for speaking publicly about judicial misconduct); and Matt Pollard, Centre for the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, International Commission of Jurists. The IBA and the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) jointly conducted the event, during which the ICJ launched its new Practitioners’ Guide No 13: Judicial Accountability.

The launch of this report completes the first phase of the IBA Judicial Integrity Initiative. The Initiative will now focus on practical actions that may have an impact in reducing judicial corruption where it occurs. These include compilations of best practices for prosecutors and for bar associations; a potential system to certify judicial systems as having procedures designed to prevent corruption; a model compact agreement that would contain an anti-corruption declaration signed in individual countries by the bar association, judges, lawyers, prosecutors and court personnel; a study of national laws regarding judicial corruption; and, consideration of asset recovery mechanisms.

Download the Judicial Integrity Initiative:Judicial Systems and Corruption report
English Spanish  Portuguese French

A short film outlining the importance of judicial integrity, the issues the IBA Judicial Integrity Initiative is addressing, and its work through 2015. Includes interviews with senior judges or former senior judges from Mexico, Philippines and Nigeria

What is the Judicial Integrity Initiative? 

IBA President David W. Rivkin launched the IBA Judicial Integrity Initiative in January 2015. The overall goal of the Initiative and its relevance to society is the improvement of the level of integrity in the judiciary. This Initiative focuses on the role of legal professionals in the judiciary and uses the resources and experience of the IBA’s global membership of lawyers and bar associations.

The IBA acknowledges the efforts of members of the judiciary to fight corruption and encourage independence and impartiality in judicial decision making. The Judicial Integrity Initiative aims to contribute to these efforts by raising awareness of the causes and consequences of judicial corruption where it exists, promoting the highest standards of integrity among lawyers and judges, and considering how countries have worked effectively to eliminate judicial corruption. The main objective of the Initiative is for lawyers and judges to achieve a satisfactory level of knowledge of the various ways their interactions are vulnerable to corruption, and how to prevent and combat these forms of corruption.

The Initiative was officially launched by two meetings of experts in London and Singapore, in early 2015. The experts examined the scope of the problem and current efforts to combat judicial corruption. They brought forward a series of suggestions on how, during the next two years, the IBA could best contribute to those efforts.

Mr Rivkin commented, ‘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. The IBA Judicial Integrity Initiative is as an extension of the anti-corruption work the IBA has been doing around the world; training lawyers to identify corruption, and not to participate in it unwittingly. The IBA OECD UNODC Anti-Corruption Strategy for the Legal Profession was launched in 2010 and is a flagship programme of the IBA, promoting integrity compliance among lawyers.’

The Initiative will be conducted in two parts. The first part will involve the production and dissemination of a typologies study on the forms of corruption that occur between lawyers and judges, and other judicial system officials. The IBA will be conducting the typogies study in partnership with the Basel Institute of Governance, the chair of which is Mark Pieth. The second part will involve the implementation of activities which will be chosen and designed on the basis of the findings of the typologies study.

Project Partner

The Basel Institute on Governance is an independent not-for-profit competence centre working around the world with the public and private sectors to counter corruption and other financial crimes and to improve the quality of governance.

Ghana Judiciary and Bar adopt IBA Judicial Anti-Corruption Compact

Ghana Judiciary and Bar adopt IBA Judicial Anti-Corruption Compact

From left: Benson Nutsukpui, Ghana Bar President; Dominic Ayine, Deputy Attorney-General; Chief Justice Georgina T Wood; David W Rivkin; Nene Amegatcher, past President, Ghana Bar and incoming IBA African Regional Forum Co-Chair

Ghana has become the second country to adopt the IBA Judicial Anticorruption Compact, and the first in Africa to do so. The IBA Judicial Anti-Corruption Compact is a document symbolising a unified commitment by the judiciary and members of the legal profession to prevent any corrupt practices from impacting the judicial process, to defend the rule of law and to uphold ethical principles throughout the profession.

The official signing took place on 21 December 2016 in Accra, during the final month of David W Rivkin’s term as IBA President.

At the core of the Compact is an individual commitment by all members of the judicial process – judges, lawyers, prosecutors and court administrators – that they will not engage in any form of corrupt activity, that they will report any instances of corrupt activity of which they become aware, and further, that they will work to reinforce an impartial and independent judiciary separate from other branches of government.

Read more by downloading this historic signing.

Download Historic signing

Related material
Download the IBA Judicial Anticorruption Compact signed by Mexico.