Myanmar’s Supreme Court engages in High Level Dialogue with the ICJ on Drafting and Implementing a New Judicial Code of Ethics

The ICJ, the UNDP and the Office of the Supreme Court of the Union (OSCU) held a High Level Dialogue on “Drafting and Implementing a Code of Judicial Ethics” in Nay Pyi Taw on 24-25 November 2015.

This followed on a commitment by the OSCU to create a new code and to work together with the ICJ and UNDP to ensure it is informed by and implemented in accordance with international best practice.

The Judicial Ethics Review Committee, Regional High Court Judges and other senior court administrators participated in the Dialogue.

The participants and their international counterparts from the ICJ and UNDP discussed the content of the Draft Code of Ethics, international standards on Judicial Codes of Ethics and accountability mechanisms.

In opening the Dialogue, the Honourable Supreme Court Justice of the Union, U Mya Thien explained that the new code reflecting international standards would enhance public trust and promote accountability in the Judiciary.

In his opening remarks, Sam Zarifi, the ICJ’s Regional Director for Asia and the pacific noted the historic occasion in which the world was watching transition in Myanmar.

During the Dialogue, former ICJ Commissioner and UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Dato Param Cumaraswamy, and Justice Murray Kellum of Australia shared their wealth of experience developing codes of ethics and accountability mechanims at the national and international levels.

Both explained that public perception of the Judiciary is key in a transition to the rule of law and human rights.

All participants agreed the Myanmar’s judiciary is not yet independent and that its current judicial code of ethics requires updating.

It was acknowledged that new code of ethics would develop the independence of the judiciary in Myanmar.

Sam Zarifi explained that, “in order for the Supreme Court to assert judicial independence it must demonstrate that it can hold itself accountable to a code of ethics.”

Both the UNDP and the ICJ congratulated the OSCU for following its Strategic Plan for 2015-2018 and engaging in a dialogue designed to further this process.

Both expressed willingness to continue working with Myanmar’s judiciary on the issues of judicial independence, the rule of law and human rights.

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