The Bangalore Principles of Judicial Conduct
The Group recognized at the outset the need for a universlly acceptable statement of principles of judicial conduct. Such a statement would explain aspects of appropriate conduct to judges, encourage informed public understanding of the judicial system, and inspire public confidence in the integrity of the judiciary. An initial draft based on a survey of existing national codes in common law countries was prepared by the Coordinator. At its second meeting held in Bangalore, the Group agreed upon the text of the document that came to be known as the Draft Bangalore Code of Judicial Conduct. Over the next twenty months, the Bangalore Draft was widely disseminated among senior judges of both common law and civil law systems, and discussed at several conferences at which chief justices and other senior justices were present.
On the initiative of the American Bar Association's CEELI offices, the Bangalore Draft was translated into the national languages of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Kosovo, Romania, Serbia and Slovakia, and then reviewed by judges, judges' associations and constitutional and supreme courts of these countries. A significant contribution towards its evolving form was made by the Consultative Council of European Judges. That body, which functioned within the Council of Europe and represented at that time the judicial systems of 30 European countries, commissioned an expert study of the Bangalore Draft. Thereafter, at a meeting to which the Coordinator of the Group and the UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers were invited, it conducted a full and frank discussion from the perspective of the civil law system, and then adopted a comprehensive report on specific provisions of the draft.
In the light of the comments and criticisms received – and in order to ensure that the final document faithfully reflected the position of civil law jurisdictions - the Bangalore Draft was revised and placed before a Round-Table Meeting of Chief Justices drawn principally from the civil law system, which was held at the Peace Palace at The Hague. Several judges of the International Court of Justice also participated at this meeting. The final draft that emerged from this meeting – the Bangalore Principles of Judicial Conduct – was translated into Russian, Chinese, French, Spanish and Arabic and annexed to the report presented to the 59th Session of the Commission on Human Rights in April 2003 by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers. The Commission, by a resolution adopted without dissent, noted the Bangalore Principles of Judicial Conduct and brought those Principles "to the attention of Member States, the relevant United Nations organs and intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations for their consideration".
In July 2006, the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC) adopted a resolution recommended to it by the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice in which it recognized the Bangalore Principles of Judicial Conduct as representing a further development of, and as being complementary to, the UN Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary 1985. Accordingly, ECOSOC invited Member States to encourage their judiciaries to take into consideration the Bangalore Principles when reviewing or developing rules with respect to the professional and ethical conduct of members of the judiciary. ECOSOC also invited Member States to submit to the UN Secretary-General their views regarding the Bangalore Principles and to suggest revisions, as appropriate.
Fourteen Member States submitted their views concerning the Bangalore Principles of Judicial Conduct. In March 2007, in his report to ECOSOC, the UN Secretary General noted as follows:
All of the responding States welcomed the Bangalore Principles as a useful basis for the development of domestic standards and rules governing the professional conduct of judges. Many States regarded the guidance contained in the Principles as a valuable tool for strengthening the independence, impartiality, integrity, propriety, competence and diligence of judges, as well as to ensure equality of treatment for all before the courts. Ten of the responding States informed the UN Secretary-General that their judiciaries had already adopted standards and rules that complied with the values and guidelines enshrined in the Bangalore Principles, while four reported that they were in the process of reviewing existing professional standards and rules of judicial conduct in the light of the Bangalore Principles.
As mandated by ECOSOC, the comments submitted by Member States were placed before an Open-ended Intergovernmental Group of Experts convened by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Vienna in February 2007. The Secretary-General’s report added that, having considered the proposed amendments, the participants were of the view that, since the text of the Principles had only recently been endorsed by ECOSOC, it was premature to consider amending it. In addition, as most of the comments were aimed at clarifying and developing the values and guidelines already contained in the Principles rather than raising new points, it was felt that it would be more appropriate to insert these comments in the commentary rather than in the text of the Principles itself.
In July 2007, ECOSOC adopted a further resolution recommended to it by the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice in which it noted with appreciation the report of the Secretary-General on strengthening basic principles of judicial conduct, in particular the progress reported by several Member States on the implementation of the Bangalore Principles of Judicial Conduct, and invited Member States, consistent with their domestic legal systems, to continue to encourage their judiciaries to take into consideration the Bangalore Principles of Judicial Conduct when reviewing or developing rules with respect to the professional and ethical conduct of members of the judiciary.