CENTRE OF EXPERTISE IN JUDICIARY @ TRANSPARENCY INTERNATIONAL ROMANIA
2.1 PRINCIPLES FOR AN EFFECTIVE JUDICIARY
Over the last 40 years international organizations, as well as professional bodies, have agreed to
a range of international standards and principles regarding the conduct of judicial actors and the
performance of judicial institutions. These international documents
set out the overarching principles
that should guide the operation of an effective judiciary and list the detailed standards that ought to
be in place to achieve these principles. Some of these international documents deal specifically with
corruption, such as the United Nations Convention against Corruption; others focus on the ethical
conduct of particular judicial sector actors, such as the Bangalore Principles of judicial conduct 2002
which is concerned with standards to ensure the ethical behaviour of judges. Still others set out
system requirements for the effective functioning of the different institutions of the judicial system that
include, but are not limited to, anti-corruption measure, such as, the UN standards on prosecutors
This section sets out the principles that should guide efforts meant to strengthen judicial institutions
and improve the behaviour of judicial actors. The principles that guide judicial systems are: lawfulness,
independence, impartiality, integrity, accountability, transparency and proper administration of justice.
What follows is an explanation of these seven principles, drawn from international documents.
Lawfulness requires judiciaries to be empowered by the constitution
, to adjudicate the law, to
competently apply the law and to follow only the laws and procedures emanating from the legislative
body rather than from the executive.
The ‘separation of powers’ or the system of ‘checks and balances’ is a doctrine under which each
of the three powers of state, the legislative, the executive and the judiciary, balances and censures
the behaviour of the other two branches. The legislative body elaborates the rules, including those
governing the constitution and functioning of the judiciary. The executive applies the rules and
provides the lawmakers and the judiciary with the means for functioning. The judiciary checks the
constitutionality and legality of the rules elaborated by the legislative body and the actions taken by
the executive in applying those laws and rules. The judiciary upholds the rule of law and protects the
fundamental rights of the people of a state.
Independence of the judiciary ensures that neither the legislative nor the executive, or any other
outside actor, controls nor influences judicial decisions
. Judicial independence means that courts
must not be subordinate to executive or legislative powers. Lower courts are entitled to make
independent decisions, subject only to review by higher courts.
Judicial and prosecutorial independence helps establish an impartial judiciary and improves public
trust in the courts. Prosecutorial independence, even in those jurisdictions in which they are not
formally part of the judiciary, occurs when the decision-making of prosecutors is free from interference
by any other state entity, including higher prosecutorial offices or courts.
12. A list of international standards is provided in Annex 1.
13. E/CN.4/2003/65, Annex, page 18
14. Guidance Note of the Secretary-General, UN Approach to Rule of Law Assistance, April 2008, point B – Framework
for strengthening the rule of law, 1 Constitution or equivalent
15. See Value 1 of the Bangalore principles of Judicial Conduct