International Judicial Monitor
Published by the American Society of International Law and the International Judicial Academy
September 2006, Volume 1, Issue 4

ASIL Sidebar

Judicial Education and the Emergence of a Global Legal Environment?

The growing impact of international law and transnational legal practice on legal systems the world over during the past several decades has led to increased emphasis on ensuring that members of the judiciary obtain training in substantive and procedural aspects of international law and how it is incorporated domestically. 

As the legal landscape expands along with the enlargement of social and commercial interaction around the globe, knowledge and skills become dated and even somewhat parochial much more quickly. 

In addition, the increasing complexity of many cases—whether they involve international law or not—often requires that judges and court personnel develop  specialized knowledge that is not typically obtained during initial academic training.

Judges and court personnel must therefore devote more time to staying abreast of significant legal developments, including those with international and extraterritorial dimensions, whether they emanate from their own jurisdictions or others.    

While this may be achieved with some degree of success by reading professional literature, attending conferences at home and abroad, and by interacting with foreign judges, it also requires participation in more formal educational programs and advanced training which involve practical as well as theoretical aspects to them.   

The growing consensus around the need for continuing judicial education is perhaps most clearly articulated at the international level in the Bangalore Principles of Judicial Conduct, a document adopted by a group of leading jurists, i.e. Roundtable Meeting of Chief Justices, in 2002.

The Bangalore Principles, which are based in part on codes of judicial conduct found at the domestic level, provide:

  • A judge shall take reasonable steps to maintain and enhance the judge’s knowledge, skills and personal qualities necessary for the proper performance of judicial duties, taking advantage for this purpose of the training and other facilities which should be made available, under judicial control, to the judges. (Principle 6.3)
  • A judge shall keep himself or herself informed about relevant developments of international law, including international conventions and other instruments establishing human rights norms. (Principle 6.4)

Numerous other international instruments pertaining to the role and function of the judiciary in a democratic society also recognize the importance of judicial education. In doing so, virtually all of them affirm the relationship of education and qualifications of judges to creating and sustaining independent, efficient, and accountable judiciaries. [i]

The American Society of International Law is actively engaged in providing a forum for discussing issues related to judicial education and in offering professional development and networking opportunities to judges, and to the legal profession as a whole, as part of its efforts to promote a just world under international law.

Recent ASIL activities and programs in this regard include:

  • A discussion on how international law is incorporated into domestic law and judicial education in the United States with a delegation from the Embassy of Ethiopia, including Adil Ahmed, Vice President of the Federal High Court of Ethiopia, and Embassy Counsel Nebiyou Dagne. 
  • A webinar on the Role of International Law in Countering Human Trafficking which explored how international law deals with trafficking in persons and also identified and assessed current challenges international institutions, governments, the justice sector, and civil society organizations face in combating this transnational crime and human rights violation.

Andrew Solomon, ASIL Director of Research and Outreach Programs

[i] See, e.g. the United Nations Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary; the Council of Europe’s Recommendation (94) on the Independence, Efficiency, and Role of Judges; the European Charter on the Statute for Judges; the Beijing Statement on Principles of Judicial Independence, and the Caracas Declaration.  

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ASIl & International Judicial AcademyInternational Judicial Monitor
© 2006 – The American Society of International Law and International Judicial Academy.

Editors: James G. Apple, Katherine Brantingham and Andrew Solomon.
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