Adopted by the Seventh United Nations Congress on the
Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders held at Milan
from 26 August to 6 September 1985 and endorsed by General
Assembly resolutions 40/32 of 29 November 1985 and 40/146 of 13
Whereas in the Charter of the United Nations the peoples of the
world affirm, inter alia , their determination to establish
conditions under which justice can be maintained to achieve
international co-operation in promoting and encouraging respect for
human rights and fundamental freedoms without any discrimination,
Whereas the Universal Declaration of Human Rights enshrines in
particular the principles of equality before the law, of the
presumption of innocence and of the right to a fair and public
hearing by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal
established by law,
Whereas the International Covenants on Economic, Social and
Cultural Rights and on Civil and Political Rights both guarantee the
exercise of those rights, and in addition, the Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights further guarantees the right to be tried without
Whereas frequently there still exists a gap between the vision
underlying those principles and the actual situation,
Whereas the organization and administration of justice in every
country should be inspired by those principles, and efforts should
be undertaken to translate them fully into reality,
Whereas rules concerning the exercise of judicial office should
aim at enabling judges to act in accordance with those principles,
Whereas judges are charged with the ultimate decision over life,
freedoms, rights, duties and property of citizens,
Whereas the Sixth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of
Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, by its resolution 16, called
upon the Committee on Crime Prevention and Control to include among
its priorities the elaboration of guidelines relating to the
independence of judges and the selection, professional training and
status of judges and prosecutors,
Whereas it is, therefore, appropriate that consideration be first
given to the role of judges in relation to the system of justice and
to the importance of their selection, training and conduct,
The following basic principles, formulated to assist Member
States in their task of securing and promoting the independence of
the judiciary should be taken into account and respected by
Governments within the framework of their national legislation and
practice and be brought to the attention of judges, lawyers, members
of the executive and the legislature and the public in general. The
principles have been formulated principally with professional judges
in mind, but they apply equally, as appropriate, to lay judges,
where they exist.
Independence of the judiciary
1. The independence of the judiciary shall be guaranteed by
the State and enshrined in the Constitution or the law of the
country. It is the duty of all governmental and other institutions
to respect and observe the independence of the judiciary.
2. The judiciary shall decide matters before them
impartially, on the basis of facts and in accordance with the law,
without any restrictions, improper influences, inducements,
pressures, threats or interferences, direct or indirect, from any
quarter or for any reason.
3. The judiciary shall have jurisdiction over all issues of
a judicial nature and shall have exclusive authority to decide
whether an issue submitted for its decision is within its competence
as defined by law.
4. There shall not be any inappropriate or unwarranted
interference with the judicial process, nor shall judicial decisions
by the courts be subject to revision. This principle is without
prejudice to judicial review or to mitigation or commutation by
competent authorities of sentences imposed by the judiciary, in
accordance with the law.
5. Everyone shall have the right to be tried by ordinary
courts or tribunals using established legal procedures. Tribunals
that do not use the duly established procedures of the legal process
shall not be created to displace the jurisdiction belonging to the
ordinary courts or judicial tribunals.
6. The principle of the independence of the judiciary
entitles and requires the judiciary to ensure that judicial
proceedings are conducted fairly and that the rights of the parties
7. It is the duty of each Member State to provide adequate
resources to enable the judiciary to properly perform its functions.
Freedom of expression and association
8. In accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights, members of the judiciary are like other citizens entitled to
freedom of expression, belief, association and assembly; provided,
however, that in exercising such rights, judges shall always conduct
themselves in such a manner as to preserve the dignity of their
office and the impartiality and independence of the judiciary.
9. Judges shall be free to form and join associations of
judges or other organizations to represent their interests, to
promote their professional training and to protect their judicial
Qualifications, selection and training
10. Persons selected for judicial office shall be
individuals of integrity and ability with appropriate training or
qualifications in law. Any method of judicial selection shall
safeguard against judicial appointments for improper motives. In the
selection of judges, there shall be no discrimination against a
person on the grounds of race, colour, sex, religion, political or
other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or status,
except that a requirement, that a candidate for judicial office must
be a national of the country concerned, shall not be considered
Conditions of service and tenure
11. The term of office of judges, their independence,
security, adequate remuneration, conditions of service, pensions and
the age of retirement shall be adequately secured by law.
12. Judges, whether appointed or elected, shall have
guaranteed tenure until a mandatory retirement age or the expiry of
their term of office, where such exists.
13. Promotion of judges, wherever such a system exists,
should be based on objective factors, in particular ability,
integrity and experience.
14. The assignment of cases to judges within the court to
which they belong is an internal matter of judicial administration.
Professional secrecy and immunity
15. The judiciary shall be bound by professional secrecy
with regard to their deliberations and to confidential information
acquired in the course of their duties other than in public
proceedings, and shall not be compelled to testify on such matters.
16. Without prejudice to any disciplinary procedure or to
any right of appeal or to compensation from the State, in accordance
with national law, judges should enjoy personal immunity from civil
suits for monetary damages for improper acts or omissions in the
exercise of their judicial functions.
Discipline, suspension and removal
17. A charge or complaint made against a judge in his/her
judicial and professional capacity shall be processed expeditiously
and fairly under an appropriate procedure. The judge shall have the
right to a fair hearing. The examination of the matter at its
initial stage shall be kept confidential, unless otherwise requested
by the judge.
18. Judges shall be subject to suspension or removal only
for reasons of incapacity or behaviour that renders them unfit to
discharge their duties.
19. All disciplinary, suspension or removal proceedings
shall be determined in accordance with established standards of
20. Decisions in disciplinary, suspension or removal
proceedings should be subject to an independent review. This
principle may not apply to the decisions of the highest court and
those of the legislature in impeachment or similar proceedings.