“International Standards for the Independence of the Judiciary”, The Center for Constitutional Transitions at NYU Law & Democracy Reporting International Briefing Papers (with R. Stacey) (2013).


The independence of the judiciary gives concrete expression to two essential elements of democracy, namely the rule of law and the separation of powers. In a constitutional democracy, the political process and any state function must take place within the confines of the law. Judges are tasked to uphold the rule of law. To ensure that they do so without improper influence, they must be independent from the executive and legislative branch of power. Their role for democracy is particularly important in safeguarding human rights. Under international law the following working definition of judicial independence can be discerned: an independent judiciary must (a) be impartial; (b) approach cases in an unbiased manner; (c) display no prejudice; (d) be politically independent; and (e) operate without fear. This Briefing Paper sets out international standards for judicial independence