Background to its formation
The Judicial Integrity Group (the Group) was formed in 2000 following discussions, initiated by Nihal Jayawickrama and Jeremy Pope in the context of their then-involvement with the centre for Research and Innovation of Transparency International, with eight Chief Justices from four African and four Asian countries. The Chief Justices met in Vienna under the auspices of the UN Global Programme Against Corruption. They agreed to respond to a growing body of evidence that, in many countries in Africa, Asia, Eastern and Central Europe and Latin America, the public were losing confidence in their judicial systems, mainly due to their perception that the judiciary was a corrupt institution.
The Chief Justices agreed that, consistent with the principle of judicial independence, the judiciary had the primary duty to assert and protect its integrity and the integrity of the processes over which the judiciary presided; and that in doing so, it was advantageous to draw on the support and experience both of local court-users and stakeholder as well as like-minded colleagues in other jurisdictions. Accordingly, they agreed:
(a) To formulate a concept of judicial accountability which will be of practical effect and have the potential to impact positively on the standard of judicial conduct and raise the level of public confidence in the Rule of Law;
(b) To design mechanisms which are capable of being utilized by the judiciary to strengthen the integrity of the judicial system;
(c) To formulate and promote standards, guidelines and instruments relating to vital aspects of the judicial system on their own experience;
(d) To identify, and assist in the implementation of, measures of judicial reform which the judiciary is competent to undertake on its own through the exercise of its own powers (such as oversight and/or disciplining of judges, leadership, re-organization of the registry, reform of trial and appellate procedures, and the training of judicial officers) and which are demonstrably effective in eliminating corruption within the judicial system and providing greater, more expeditious, and less expensive access to justice; and to do so within the constitutional guarantees of judicial independence.