Experts Present Principles for International Criminal Judges

By: Sarah Sandoval 

Impunity News Staff Writer 

The Hague, Netherlands – For the past eight months, the Ecole Nationale de la Magistrature, and the Siracusa International Institute for Criminal Justice and Human Rights have been working on a project designed to unify a code of ethics for the international criminal justice system. This project, “Ethica – The path to a common code of ethics for international criminal judges,” is a result of the 2017 Paris Declaration on the Effectiveness of International Criminal Justice. 

Cover page of the Ethica pamphlet, which was created as part of the Ethica project | Photo Courtesy of the Nuremberg Academy

According to the Siracusa International Institute, the project “aims at identifying the ethical rules applicable to international criminal judges, based on concrete cases that [arose]before international criminal jurisdictions.” The principles that the project outlines have been established by a group of highly regarded international experts, who held two seminars for this purpose; one in Nuremberg on February 6, 2023, and the other in Paris on May 15, 2023. 

Though the official launch of the project is scheduled for later this month, the principles are available for viewing now on the International Criminal Court, International Nuremberg Principles Academy, and France Diplomacy websites. The pdf pamphlet outlines 25 principles in three different categories. The category of “Independence and Impartiality” includes tenets such as that “[International Criminal Judges] should exercise caution when interacting with State representatives and in particular when deciding whether to attend events organized, sponsored or cosponsored by States that may have an interest in a pending case or investigation or one likely to become so,” while one of the principles listed in the “Dignity, Integrity, and Probity” category advises International Criminal Judges to be aware of how they and their families present themselves on social media. The final category, “Career and Professional Conscience” includes a principle that states “ICJs should be physically and mentally fit to perform their functions throughout their mandate and should report any doubt about their ability to perform their judicial functions to the presidency of the tribunal.” 

The pamphlet also includes background information about how these principles should be interpreted. Specifically, it states that the ethical principles are a living document, designed to be interpreted within the broader context and “shaped by the evolution of society, technology and the needs of international criminal justice.” The principles will be presented within the next couple of months, first in Siracusa, Italy on October 13th, followed by New York, United States on October 24th, before the final presentation on November 15 in The Hague, Netherlands. 

For further information, please see: 

Ethica – Ethical Principles for International Criminal Judges – September 22, 2023

France Diplomacy – France supports the Ethica project on ethical issues in international criminal justice – September 2023

ICC – ICC President contributes to Ethical Principles for International Criminal Judges – September 26, 2023

INPA – New publication: Ethical Principles for International Criminal Judges – 

SII – “Ethica, towards a common code of ethics for international criminal judges” – May 2, 2023


Author: Sydney Krause