As part of its judicial reform programs, ABA ROLI promotes greater independence, accountability and transparency in judicial systems; assists in drafting and implementing codes of judicial ethics; promotes judicial education and training; and helps to enhance court administration and efficiency.
When we first began providing technical legal assistance in Central and Eastern Europe about 25 years ago, the judiciaries of many nations in the region were in desperate need of reform. As ABA ROLI expanded its rule of law programming to other regions, it became apparent that similar obstacles existed in judicial systems throughout the world. And while many judiciaries have made significant progress, challenges remain.
Insufficient judicial education and professional training, as well as a lack of emphasis on judicial ethics, hamper the effectiveness of judiciaries and of individual judges in many countries throughout the world. Overwhelming caseloads—coupled with inadequate resource allocation and a lack of modern case-management systems—can result in procedural delays that undermine the administration of justice.
Courts are often plagued with corruption, undermining often-fragile public trust in the fairness and efficiency of the judicial system. Moreover, insufficient professional guarantees and ill-defined judicial powers leave many judges and magistrates demoralized and marginalized in their own courtrooms and thus unable, or unwilling, to promote the rule of law.
ABA ROLI believes that an independent, accountable, well-functioning judiciary is a central pillar of the rule of law. With this in mind, we offer expert assistance in and provide resources for:
- conducting assessments of judicial reform efforts,
- facilitating dialogue on judicial reform and independence,
- promoting education and training for judges and court personnel,
- improving judicial ethics and accountability, and
- strengthening court administration, efficiency and transparency.
Evaluating judicial reform
To identify and target the core challenges necessitating judicial reform, we have committed resources to building advanced assessment capacity. ABA ROLI undertakes assessments of judiciaries, using its Judicial Reform Index (JRI), a tool that assesses judicial reform and independence. The JRI was conceived and designed based upon comparative analyses of legal traditions, international standards and regional norms, so it can be implemented globally. Since 2001, ABA ROLI has undertaken 40 JRI assessments in 20 countries, informing national reform and donor priorities alike.