Peter Batchelor | Remarks at the Launch of the Supreme Court Code of Ethics

Aug 2, 2017

It is a great pleasure to join you here today on this auspicious occasion to launch the Union Supreme Court Code of Ethics.

I would like to extend an especially warm welcome to our international guests who have traveled so far to be here with us today: Chief Justice Kaylan Shrestha of Nepal, and Judge Murray Kellam of Australia. These two distinguished jurists have collaborated closely with the Supreme Court of Myanmar as the Code of Ethics was produced, and have spent the past two days working with the judicial ethics team to discuss how to best create a commentary that will help the Supreme Court ensure that its principles are well understood and properly observed across the Union.

I would also like to acknowledge the highly productive partnership we have enjoyed with the International Commission of Jurists and with Denmark during the development of the Code. I am certain that everyone supporting Myanmar’s judiciary will agree that we help our colleagues best when we collaborate and build upon each other’s strengths. The quality of this Code of Ethics being launched today is a particularly good example of effective partnership in support of national leadership and national ownership. The Code aligns closely with the Bangalore principles of Judicial Conduct, it is well-adapted to the Myanmar context, and it further underscores the vital role than an independent and principled judiciary plays in a functioning democracy that respects the rights of all its people. Honorable Chief Justice (look to CJ) – our sincere congratulations to you for your leadership of this effort and for a job well done.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Professional integrity, accountability, and competence are highly important criteria for all three independent branches of the Union government, but perhaps especially so for the judiciary. After all, judges are called upon every day to resolve difficult and complicated disputes between neighbors and family members, citizens and the state, and sometimes between the States and Regions themselves. When such incredibly important decisions are made, it is especially important that a strong and enforceable Code of Ethics is in place to help ensure that decisions are considered by all parties – and by the public at large – to be fair, equitable, and not subject to improper influence.

As we all are aware, there are no perfect judiciaries anywhere in the world. Maintaining an ethical judiciary that operates under the highest standards of integrity requires diligence and constant attention. With this Judicial Code of Ethics which we are launching today, we now have a robust framework for ensuring that its principles are integrated into the daily work of the judiciary in Myanmar.

During the past two days, the members of the Judicial Ethics Team and Justices Shretham and Kellam have been discussing what type of commentary will help the judiciary clarify the core principles of the Code of Ethics. As I understand, the Ethics Team fully appreciates that the commentary will take a considerable amount of effort, but also recognizes that it is an essential next step on the path towards enhancing judicial integrity.

UNDP is very happy to have provided support to the development of the Code of Ethics, and we remain committed to working with all other Development Partners here today to provide whatever assistance the Supreme Court asks of us to continue progress towards enhancing the integrity of the judiciary.

Thank you all and, again, my warmest congratulations on the launch of the Judicial Code of Ethics.

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