Ethical Principles for International Criminal Judges


Arising from the Paris Declaration on the Effectiveness of International Criminal Justice, the project “Ethica, on the path to a common code of ethics for international criminal judges” examines issues of ethics and deontology in international criminal justice. Led by the International Nuremberg Principles Academy, the École Nationale de la Magistrature and the Siracusa International Institute for Criminal Justice and Human Rights, this project was supported by France through the financial contribution of the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs and of Expertise France.

The research, reflections and expert consultations carried out during the project resulted in the development of a series of principles and guidelines for judges of international criminal courts. These principles were identified and approved by an international group of experts at two seminars. The first seminar was organised by the International Nuremberg Principles Academy held in Nuremberg on 6 February 2023. The second seminar was organised by the École Nationale de la Magistrature and held in Paris on 15 May 2023.

The high-level group of experts is composed of Presidents of international criminal courts and tribunals as well as current and former representatives of such courts and tribunals, of international organisations, civil society and academia.

In its discussions, the group was assisted by the thorough work and research conducted by the Scientific Committee of the project over the course of a year. The Scientific Committee included Nicolas Guillou, Director of the Scientific Committee and Judge at the Kosovo Specialist Chambers, José Igreja Matos, President of the International Association of Judges and President of the Court of Appeal of Porto, Mónica Pinto, Professor Emerita of International Law and International Human Rights Law at the University of Buenos Aires and former UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, and William A. Schabas, Professor of International Law at Middlesex University, London.

Today, the public has ever greater expectation regarding the ethical stance of judges and international criminal judges are particularly exposed to public scrutiny. The Ethical Principles for International Criminal Judges are intended to provide guidance to all international criminal judges on ethical issues.

The Ethical Principles are to be read within the broader social and historical context. They are a living document whose construction and development will be shaped by the evolution of society, technology and the needs of international criminal judges.

The Ethical Principles for International Criminal Judges have been published in September 2023 in English, French and Spanish.