Concept Note


Transparency is a fundamental element of the judicial process. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, while reaffirming the right to a fair and public hearing, recognizes that the press and public may be excluded from all or part of a trial for reasons of morals, public order (ordre public) or national security in a democratic state, or when the interests of the private lives of the parties so require, or to the extent strictly necessary in the opinion of the court in special circumstances where publicity would prejudice the interests of justice. The Covenant, however, states that every judgment rendered in a criminal case or in a suit at law shall be made public except where the interests of juvenile persons otherwise require, or the proceedings concern matrimonial disputes or the guardianship of children.

The principle of judicial independence articulated in the UN Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary has now been complemented by the principle of judicial accountability enunciated in the Bangalore Principles of Judicial Conduct. The Magna Carta of Judges, which summarises and codifies the Opinions adopted by the Consultative Council of European Judges, emphasizes the importance of access to swift, efficient and affordable dispute resolution, and of reasoned decisions, pronounced in public within a reasonable time, based on fair and public hearing. The Conference of Presidents of European Supreme Courts meeting in Slovenia under the auspices of the Council of Europe formulated a statement on "The Supreme Court: Publicity, Visibility and Transparency". That statement recognized "the necessity to satisfy the expectations of contemporary society with regard to justice", and stressed the importance of courts "demonstrating their openness and sensitivity". The statement noted that judgments "based on clear and easily understandable reasoning" should be accessible to the general public; that there should be transparency in the nomination of judges; that the Supreme Court should "participate in the democratic debate in society with the aim of making better known the issues of justice in a state governed by the rule of law"; and underscored the relationship between the judiciary and the media as an important element in the educational role of the Supreme Court in a democracy. The significance of transparency in all aspects of the judicial process was reaffirmed at the Launch of the UNODC Global Judicial Integrity Network in Vienna in April 2018.

İstanbul Declaration on Transparency in Judicial Process

In November 2013, 13 Chief Justices and senior Justices of the Supreme Courts of the AsianPacific region, together with the President and Heads of Chambers of the Court of Cassation of Turkey, met in Istanbul on the invitation of UNDP and the Court of Cassation of Turkey to consider the development of a detailed statement on transparency in the judicial process. They were assisted by representatives of LAWASIA, the International Commission of Jurists and the UN sponsored Judicial Integrity Group. Speaking at the opening session of the Summit, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Gabriela Knaul, observed that a detailed statement on transparency in the judicial process, as the intended outcome of the Summit, would be a valuable contribution to the reform initiatives embarked upon by several judiciaries throughout the world. At the end of the three-day Summit, the participants adopted the Istanbul Declaration on Transparency in the Judicial Process. It is the first comprehensive statement of principles relating to transparency in the administration of justice.

In June 2016, the Istanbul Declaration on Transparency in the Judicial Process was submitted to, and endorsed without amendment by, the Chief Justices and Senior Justices of the Balkan Republics of Albania, Greece, Kosovo, Montenegro and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia at a three-day Summit held in Bursa, the capital of the former Ottoman Empire.

In October 2017, an international expert group, meeting in Ankara on the invitation of UNDP and the Court of Cassation of Turkey, developed a draft Action Plan on the Implementation of the Istanbul Declaration on Transparency in the Judicial Process. The experts included Senior Justices from Nigeria, Australia, Sri Lanka and Turkey, and representatives of the European Judicial Training Network, Brussels; the National Center for State Courts, Washington DC; and the International Institute for Justice Excellence Stichtung, The Hague.


The purpose of the Summit is to reaffirm the Istanbul Declaration on Transparency in the Judicial Process, and to consider and adopt its Draft Implementation Measures.

Participant profile:
  1. A group of Chief Justices and Senior Justices who represent the major legal systems of the world, from Asia, Africa, Europe, South and North America, the Pacific and the Caribbean;
  2. The UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers and representatives of UNODC, OHCHR, and of the Global Judicial Integrity Network;
  3. Representatives of major international governmental and non-governmental legal, judicial and human rights organizations such as the ICCPR Human Rights Committee, the Judicial Integrity Group, and the International Commission of Jurists; and
  4. The Heads of the Chambers of the Court of Cassation of Turkey


The Summit will be organized in the form of three Plenary Sessions and two simultaneous Round Table Meetings to address the following issues in the Draft Implementation Measures:

  • Public proceedings, Access to court premises, Access to the judicial system, Interpretation facilities, Assignment of cases, Transparency in the delivery of justice, Executive detention, and Publishing of judgments (Principles 1 - 8).
  • Student engagement, Outreach programmes, Relations with the media, Assessing public satisfaction with the delivery of justice, Appointment of judges, Complaints against judges, Disciplinary proceedings (Principles 9 -15).

Each Round-Table will be invited to propose amendments, if considered necessary, to the Draft Implementation Measures.