An independent and diverse judiciary is a key institution for the protection of rule of law and to combat corruption. This series of discussion papers on Latin America is a result of the Judges as Peacebuilders project and provides recommendations drafted by local partners from Colombia, Guatemala, and Mexico on how judges and judicial associations can increase judicial security, independence, and diversity, and counter corruption in Latin America. ILAC launched the papers at this year’s World Justice Forum in The Hague, in collaboration with its members the Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice (Vance Center) and the International Association of Women Judges (IAWJ).
As a result of project related dialogue sessions and roundtables with local judges and research into judicial security, independence, and diversity in each country, these discussion papers highlight for key recommendations on supporting independent judicial associations to protect judicial independence, promote judicial diversity and counter corruption:
- Support and strengthen local judicial associations in their work to promote judicial independence, democracy, and a diverse judiciary, through financial and technical assistance such as training and exchanges and raising the visibility of threats against judges and administrators.
- Organize exchanges to establish links between individual judges and judicial associations in the region and internationally to share experiences, develop professional camaraderie and standards, and build support for judicial integrity and safety.
- Raise international attention to the threats to judicial independence – both on an individual and on a more institutional level – through monitoring reports, observatories, support actions through national and international networks, including the media.
- Support local judicial associations with funding and technical assistance to promote diversity in the judiciary through mentoring programs for judges, especially newly appointed judges from underrepresented and vulnerable groups – not just women but also marginalized indigenous groups and Afro-descendant populations.
The project’s findings and policy recommendations are now online in English and Spanish in a series of three interrelated Discussion Papers:
1. Attacks against judges: institutional weakness and lack of guarantees for judicial independence in Colombia, Guatemala and Mexico
2. Judges as anti-corruption actors in Colombia, Guatemala and Mexico
3. Judicial Diversity: A tool to increase access to justice in Colombia, Guatemala and Mexico
The Judges as Peacebuilders Project
The project ‘Judges as Peacebuilders’ was initiated in 2021, responding to judges’ alerts on increasing attacks against their work and security in Guatemala, Colombia and Mexico. The discussion papers are based on a series of conferences and consultations with over 50 judges, civil society representatives from throughout Colombia, Guatemala & Mexico and international organizations, including the UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Diego García-Sayán, and the Commissioner of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Joel Hernández, who also serves as the rapporteur for human rights defenders and justice operators.
ILAC also teamed up with member organization the World Justice Project (WJP), to use disaggregated data from its Rule of Law Index on corruption, civil and criminal justice in Colombia, Guatemala and Mexico. The data which informs the Rule of Law Index, served as important points of departure for discussions, providing complementary views from general population polls and interviews with legal experts in the three countries. ILAC Latin America Working Group, a committee of ILAC members with expertise in the region, have also provided crucial support and guidance throughout the project. Particularly, the WJP, Law Society of England and Wales, National Center for State Courts and American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative.
The Judges as Peacebuilders and the discussion papers were made possible by funding provided by the Folke Bernadotte Academy.
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