International guiding principles for judicial education[1]

Mr E Schmatt AM, PSM[2]

Members of the International Organization for Judicial Training (IOJT), which the Judicial Commission of NSW has been a member of since 2004, unanimously resolved at the 8th International Conference on the Training of the Judiciary to adopt the Declaration of Judicial Training Principles in November 2017. The Judicial Commission of NSW has incorporated many of these principles in its continuing judicial education policy.

The Judicial Commission is part of a global network of judicial education and training organisations that have been established in civil and common law jurisdictions since the 1960s. The International Organization for Judicial Training (IOJT) currently has 129 institutions from 79 developed and developing countries as members. Established in 2002, the IOJT aims to promote the rule of law through international cooperation. This mission is realised by providing opportunities for members to network and exchange professional strategies, and by assisting members to develop curricula and the capacity of their training faculty.

The Judicial Commission has been a member of the IOJT since 2004 when the second international conference was held in Ottawa, Canada under the auspices of the Canadian National Judicial Institute. Being an IOJT member means the Commission is engaged with best practice in judicial education trends globally and can share its considerable accumulated experience with other members. The IOJT’s General Assembly is convened once every two years. Between these meetings, the Board of Executives and Board of Governors direct and operate the organisation.[3]

The need for an international umbrella group was recognised in 1997 at a judicial training conference in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The “Sao Paulo Declaration” ensued, leading to the first international forum held in Jerusalem in 2002. Conferences are now held every two years. The IOJT publishes an international journal, Judicial Education and Training,[4] and provides access to resources and online courses on its website at One of the benefits of the IOJT is the assistance that better-resourced members such as Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Israel, the United Kingdom and the United States, can provide to judicial education bodies in developing countries to support the consolidation of an independent judiciary.

In November 2017, the author and the Commission’s Director, Education, Ms Una Doyle, attended the IOJT’s 8th International Conference on the Training of the Judiciary, Judicial Education 2025: Core Values and Future Innovations in Manila, the Philippines. Members of the IOJT unanimously resolved at the conference to adopt the Declaration of Judicial Training Principles, set out below.[5] The principles apply to all 129 diverse member judicial training institutions. The Judicial Commission of NSW has long incorporated many of these principles in its continuing judicial education policy, originally settled in 1991. For example, the Commission has, since its inception, embraced the innovative use of technology in the delivery of its judicial education program, reflecting principle 10, directed towards the optimal use of new technologies, distance/online learning, and electronic media.



Judicial training is essential to ensure high standards of competence and performance. Judicial training is fundamental to judicial independence, the rule of law, and the protection of the rights of all people.

Institutional framework


To preserve judicial independence, the judiciary and judicial training institutions should be responsible for the design, content, and delivery of judicial training.


Judicial leaders and the senior judiciary should support judicial training.


All states should:


provide their institutions responsible for judicial training with sufficient funding and other resources to achieve their aims and objectives; and


establish systems to ensure that all members of the judiciary are enabled to undertake training.


Any support provided to judicial training should be utilised in accordance with these principles, and in coordination with institutions responsible for judicial training.

Training as part of the judicial role


It is the right and the responsibility of all members of the judiciary to undertake training. Each member of the judiciary should have time to be involved in training as part of their judicial work.


All members of the judiciary should receive training before or upon their appointment, and should also receive regular training throughout their careers.

Training content and methodology


Acknowledging the complexity of the judicial role, judicial training should be multidisciplinary and include training in law, non-legal knowledge, skills, social context, values and ethics.


Training should be judge-led and delivered primarily by members of the judiciary who have been trained for this purpose. Training delivery may involve non-judicial experts where appropriate.


Judicial training should reflect best practices in professional and adult training program design. It should employ a wide range of up-to-date methodologies.

[1] Published in (2018) 30 JOB 17 and updated 2021. The author wishes to thank Kate Lumley, Manager, Publications and Communications, Judicial Commission for her assistance in the preparation of this article.

[2] Chief Executive, Judicial Commission of NSW.

[3] The author was elected to the IOJT Board of Governors in 2009 and the Board of Executives in 2011 and re-elected to both in 2013, 2015, 2017 and 2019.

[4] The author was appointed joint Editor-in-Chief (with Dr Rainer Hornung-Jost) of Judicial Education and Training in 2015. The Journal may be accessed at

[5] The development of the principles was proposed at the biennial conference in Recife, Brazil in November 2015.