36th Anniversary of the UN Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary: Reflecting on Contemporary Challenges of Judges and Lawyers around the world

Next year, we will celebrate the 36th anniversary of the Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary, adopted by the Seventh United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders from 26 August to 6 September 1985, and endorsed later by General Assembly resolutions 40/32 of 29 November 1985 and 40/146 of 13 December 1985. The UN Basic Principles represent an authoritative set of international norms that have contributed to upholding the independence of the judiciary and the legal profession against various forms of interference, threats and pressure put in place by both State institutions and private actors. Many of the principles enshrined in these seminal legal instruments can now be regarded as customary norms or general principles of law recognized by civilized nations. However, the existence of a solid set of international legal rules, standards, and principles aimed at ensuring and reinforcing the independence and integrity of the justice system as a whole requires continuous attention and monitoring to identify and tackle newly or re-emerging problems and challenges triggered by societal, political and economic changes. This side event aims to discuss current threats and challenges for the independence of justice and discuss new legal standards, considering transnational corruption and integrity principles, towards supplementing the Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary. This session will also examine the current status and scope of the UN Basic Principles and discussed possible means of securing better implementation and integration of standards on judicial independence and integrity, including options such as seeking an addendum, official commentary, or other means to supplement the existing content of the Basic Principles, to more fully address contemporary challenges that both judges and lawyers are facing around the world, such as corruption and organized crime threats, and the relationship between independence and integrity. The main objective of this panel is to determine possible routes and strategies to pursue further discussion of the various possibilities within the United Nations, as well as routes or strategies to strengthen compliance with the UN Basic Principles. Those strategies and assessments of the risks should be provided based on the panelists experience and work at the United Nations, from their roles and initiatives carried out from International NGO’s and considering former experiences in leading similar initiatives on international instruments.


Diego García-Sayán
United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers

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