The original notion of the 1985 UN Basic Principles derived from the idea that institutional independence meant essentially that judiciaries had to be independent of the other branches of government, mainly from the Executive and the Legislature. However, this UN Special Rapporteurship has underlined, based on his daily assessment and monitoring of the current status of the independence of judges and lawyers, that such notion of institutional independence should be contextualized based on threats and challenges that were not so clearly present when those principles where drafted.

During Mr. García-Sayán’s mandate, he has highlighted the importance of including additional variables when discussing the contemporary perspective of the independence of judges and lawyers. Especially, based on the increasing frequency of what he calls “external threats” that attempt —and on many occasions successfully — to undermine the judiciary and the legal profession. Given his assessment of the situation of judiciaries and the legal profession around the world, it is crucial to protect judges and lawyers from the political interference of other branches of government. These new impediments deserve special attention by the international community, particularly considering the harsh effects for the protection of human rights and the Rule of Law worldwide.

This UN Rapporteurship has called to the international community to further reflect on the impact of (1) frequent threats from organized crime networks against judges and lawyers; (2) judicial corruption; (3) the need to ensure judicial accountability and integrity as mechanisms to counteract and prevent corruption practices within justice institutions and (4) the challenges that judges and prosecutors face, bearing in mind the relevant role that they are called to perform and enforce by the UN Convention Against Corruption, which entered into force in 2005.

Conference participants broadly discussed the above-mentioned topics.

 

The conference “Contemporary Challenges on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers from a Global Perspective” was organized by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers; Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, New York Office and the New York City Bar Association, on February 9th to 11th, 2019, on Long Island and New York City.

Event Organizers:

Diego García-Sayán, UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers;

Andrea E. Ostheimer, Executive Director, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, New York Office;

William A. Wilson III, Chair of the Task Force on the Independence of Lawyers and Judges, New York City Bar Association;

Martin S. Flaherty, Leitner Family Professor of Law and Founding Co-Director of the Leitner Center for International Law and Justice at Fordham Law School;

Mónica Castillejos-Aragón, Consultant at the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung – New York City Office; and

Christopher Pioch, Secretary to the Task Force on the Independence of Lawyers and Judges.

Andrea E. Ostheimer, Executive Director, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, New York Office.

At the New York City Bar Association

Diego García-Sayán, UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers;

Andrea E. Ostheimer, Executive Director, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, New York Office;

William A. Wilson III, Chair of the Task Force on the Independence of Lawyers and Judges, New York City Bar Association;

Martin S. Flaherty, Leitner Family Professor of Law and Founding Co-Director of the Leitner Center for International Law and Justice at Fordham Law School;

Mónica Castillejos-Aragón, Consultant at the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung – New York City Office; and

Christopher Pioch, Secretary to the Task Force on the Independence of Lawyers and Judges.

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