Mechanism President participates in launch of 25 Ethical Principles for International Criminal Judges

The Hague
Mechanism President participates in launch of 25 Ethical Principles for International Criminal Judges

The President of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (Mechanism), Judge Graciela Gatti Santana, took part yesterday in the Ethica – Presentation of the 25 Ethical Principles of International Criminal Judges, in New York on the occasion of International Law Week.

The Ethical Principles were adopted in May 2023 within the framework of the “Ethica project”, led by l’École nationale de la magistrature, the International Nuremberg Principles Academy, and the Siracusa International Institute for Criminal Justice and Human Rights. President Gatti Santana contributed throughout the project, along with a number of other eminent Principals and Judges from international courts, jurists, and academics, some of whom joined her on today’s panel.

In her remarks, President Gatti Santana highlighted that integrity, independence and impartiality are essential to the discharge of judicial duties. She was emphatic that “once a judge, always a judge”, noting that unassailable behaviour was expected at all times, including after a judicial term comes to an end. She recognised that cases can be adjudicated in contemporaneity with political crises or where political interests are at play, and as a result judges must decide exclusively on the basis of the law and evidence, free from all external authority, pressure, influence or bias.  She further pointed out that in such context, international criminal judges ought to exercise restraint when expressing personal views in public or private fora.

President Gatti Santana reaffirmed her commitment to defend strong ethical stances governing the conduct of Judges and to lead by example. She further indicated that the discharge of her representational functions brings other challenges and requires her to be mindful of the views of stakeholders in strategic and operational matters. President Gatti Santana also recalled that the ability of international criminal judges to uphold the highest standards of judicial conduct has a significant impact in the public trust in our institutions and in the credibility of our work.  An accountable judiciary is essential to guarantee the legitimacy of the decisions rendered and of their respective institutions.

The Ethical Principles provide a complementary tool, adding to the existing codes of conduct, addressing a variety of situations susceptible of affecting judges and offering guidance as to what is ethically acceptable and what is not to avoid a conflict of interest, materialised or perceived.

President Gatti Santana is currently on official mission to New York.