Is there really a causal relationship between diversity within the judiciary and the potential for increased access to justice? This discussion paper concludes that there is. An inclusive judiciary helps increase confidence of a diverse population in the judicial system and thus willingness to take their legal disputes to court. 

In most countries, including Colombia, Guatemala and Mexico, people working in the judiciary do not reflect the diversity of the country’s population. Groups that need special protection by the judiciary and society, in general, are often underrepresented in the judicial ranks. It is not only a matter of gender inequality, but also of the inclusion of other groups such as national, ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities. 

This discussion paper reviews and summarizes findings from a series of roundtable discussions with over 50 judges from Colombia, Guatemala and Mexico as part of the project “Judges as Peacebuilders”, organized by the International Legal Assistance Consortium (ILAC), the Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice of the New York City Bar Association, and the International Association of Women Judges (IAWJ). 

Key recommendations to the national governments of Colombia, Guatemala and Mexico from the Roundtable Participants: 

1) Increase transparency in the promotion and appointment processes for all positions in the judiciary with precise pre-established criteria for merit, competence and experience, and establish quotas or diversity goals in the calls for applications for judges and justices. Make special calls for applications for judges who speak Indigenous languages. 

2) Adopt internal mechanisms within the judiciary to report cases of harassment and violence, including micromachismo/microsexism and microaggressions, with the possibility of anonymous reporting. Adopt zero-tolerance policies for harassment and violence within the judiciary, as well as protection, investigation and sanction measures. 

3) Adopt protocols for judging with a gender and diversity perspective in Guatemala, adopt protocols for judging with a LGBTQI+ perspective in Colombia and Guatemala. Create earmarked budgets for judging with a gender and diversity perspective. Organize continuous and mandatory training programs based on judgments implementing a gender and diversity perspective. 

4) Respect and promote the right to expression and association of judicial associations; consult judicial associations on issues influencing the functioning of the country’s judiciary, including measures to strengthen diversity, and create a mentoring system for new judges, especially from minority groups or in situations of vulnerability. 

The Discussion Paper is available in Spanish here.

Este documento de discusión está disponible en español este en enlace.