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Engaging Judiciaries: IAWL Participates in UNODC Judicial Integrity Network Conference in Doha.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Judicial Integrity Network held a High-Level International conference in Doha, Qatar from February 24-27, 2020 as a follow up to the High-Level Experts Meeting held in Seoul, Korea in December 2018. The conference brought together over 700 participants from nation-states around the world. Among the participants were chief justices, judges, judicial experts, researchers and policymakers who came together to discuss important issues on how to advance the goals of the Global Judicial Integrity Network. The two-day conference had plenary sessions and multiple breakout sessions on issues ranging from judicial codes of conduct, gender-related integrity issues in the judiciary, selection and appointment of judges, the use of social media and artificial intelligence, and enforcing judicial integrity through codes of conduct and ethics training.

The Institute for African Women in Law (IAWL) organized a breakout panel session on Enforcing Judicial Integrity Through Codes of Conduct and Ethics Training. The session was moderated by J. Jarpa Dawuni, Executive Director of IAWL and session rapporteur was Tabeth Masengu of University of Ghent, Belgium. The panelists included Hon. Judge Monica Mugenyi, Court of Appeal Judge of Uganda and Presiding Judge of the East African Court of Justice, Hon. Judge Elisa Samuel, High Court Judge in Mozambique and member of the Global Advisory Council of IAWL, David Sachar, Executive Director of the Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission, Arkansas, USA and Judge Abdulla Alsaadi, the Deputy President of the Court of Cassation for State of Qatar.

One of the four plenary sessions focused on Gender Related Integrity Issues in the Judiciary. The panelists included Hon. Judge Vanessa Ruiz, President of the International Association of Women Judges, Hon. Chief Justice Ivor Archie, Supreme Court of Trinidad and Tobago, Hon. Judge Fatima Al Mal, Criminal Branch Court of First Instance, Qatar and Mr. Edward Wageni, the Program Manager of the UN Women HeforShe Campaign, who presented the global movement to the audience and encouraged judiciaries to foster a culture of respect and enforcement of women’s rights within the judiciary and, between judicial officers.

Another panel that discussed gender issues was led by Kieran Pender, Program Director of the International Bar Association (IBA), who presented the report of the study conducted by the IBA “Us Too? Bullying and Sexual Harassment in the Legal Profession. Among the panel, was Nancy Hendry, Senior Researcher at the International Association of Women Judges (IAWJ) who presented her fascinating and insightful report on Gender-Related Integrity Issues in judiciaries, including issues of sextortion and other forms of sexual harassment. Other panelists included Hon. Judge Shiranee Tilakawardane (ret) Sri Lanka Judges Institute who spoke on instances were women judges have been harassed by senior judicial officials with no recourse for seeking protection. Justice Laura Cox, High Court of Justice, England latter explained the various ways the English Bar is trying to deal with sexual harassment. Sara Carnegie of the IBA was the session rapporteur.

The conference was a great convening of legal and judicial experts, leading to very lively debates, discussions and country reports and presentations on what has been happening in the different jurisdictions around the world. The UNODC office has, in the last couple of years produced a wealth of information, data and training manuals for judiciaries around the world. The State of Qatar has made meaningful investments through the Doha Declaration and at this meeting, they reaffirmed their commitment to provide support for research and documentation of the Network’s activities.

In conclusion, judiciaries around the world are working together to advance justice, equity and protection of citizens’ rights. Through international conferences such as this one, IAWL contributes to the cross-pollination of ideas and sharing of best practices that translate research into programmatic outputs. Through such international engagements, IAWL advances our advocacy efforts for gender-related judicial integrity issues. Our engagement with top judicial officers from African countries, presses home the need for judicial gatekeepers to be intentional in creating opportunities that advance the rights of all citizens—especially those of women litigants who are often relatively marginalized in multiple and intersecting ways.

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