Background and mission
The Council of Europe attaches great importance to the status of judges and the quality of the justice system because of the rule of law and the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms – which are key values for the Organisation – depend for their implementation on a strong and independent judiciary. The CCJE may be requested by member States to look into specific problems concerning the status and/or the situation of judges. It addresses topical issues and, if necessary, visits the countries concerned to discuss the ways of improving the existing situation through developing legislation, institutional framework and/or judicial practice.
In this context, the Council of Europe is concerned both with strengthening the judiciary in its member States, with the aim of ensuring mutual respect between the legislature, the executive and the judiciary, and to give European citizens increased confidence in the justice system.
It was in the light of these two objectives that the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe set up the Consultative Council of European Judges (CCJE) in 2000.
The CCJE, consultative body concerning independence, impartiality and competence of judges, highlights the essential role of the judicial power in a democratic society. The CCJE is the first body in an international organisation composed exclusively of judges and constitutes therefore a unique body at the European level.
In accordance with the pilot survey of intergovernmental steering and ad hoc committees (document GT-REF.INST(2009)1 final), CCJE opinions have been useful for the purposes of drafting national regulations and legislation, are often used as tools for the functioning and/or administration of justice and for the organisation of the work of the legal professions and are useful for national professionals and in particular for judges and judicial service commissions, in view of the fact that CCJE opinions contain concrete specifications concerning the implementation of general standards (independence of judges, training of judges, ethics, quality of decisions, etc.)
On 20 November 2009, the Fundation Justice in the World (under the patronage of the International Association of Judges) awarded the CCJE with the Prize "Justice in the World" for the excellent quality of its work and the commitment of its members.
All member States may be represented. Members should be chosen in contact, where such authorities exist, with the national authorities responsible for ensuring the independence and impartiality of judges and with the national administration responsible for managing the judiciary, from among serving judges having a thorough knowledge of questions relating to the functioning of the judicial system combined with utmost personal integrity.
The General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union is also invited to participate in the activities of the CCJE.
The following States, holding observer status with the Council of Europe, may participate in activities of the CCJE: Holy See, USA, Canada, Japan and Mexico.
The following observers to the CCJE may send a representative to attend the CCJE meetings:
- the European Association of Judges (AEM),
- the association "Magistrats européens pour la démocratie et les libertés" (MEDEL)
- the Association of European Administrative Judges,
- the European Association of Judges for Mediation (GEMME)
- the European Judicial Training Network, and
- the European Networks of Councils for the Judiciary (ENCJ)
- the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE)
The right to an independent and impartial court was laid down clearly in Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The work of the CCJE is set in the context of the implementation of this right, with the aim of strengthening the rule of law and the effective protection of human rights in democratic States.
(i) Prepare and adopt, in 2016 and 2017, respectively, at least two opinions for the attention of the Committee of Ministers on issues regarding the status of judges and the exercise of their functions;
(ii) In accordance with the 2015 Report by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe on the “State of Democracy, Human Rights and the Rule of Law in Europe”, and in co-ordination with the CCPE and the CDCJ, draft and publish a comprehensive review of the main challenges for judicial impartiality and independence in member States, and participate in the implementation of the action plan that the Committee of Ministers may adopt on this topic,
(iii) Provide targeted cooperation at the request of member States, CCJE members, judicial bodies or relevant associations of judges, to enable States to comply with Council of Europe standards concerning judges;
(iv) Prepare texts or opinions concerning the specific situation of judges at the request of the Committee of Ministers or other bodies of the Council of Europe such as the Secretary General or the Parliamentary Assembly;
(v) Encourage partnerships in the judicial field involving courts, judges and judges’ associations.
The main task of the CCJE is to contribute to implementation of the Framework Global Action Plan for Judges in Europe adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 7 February 2001 to strengthen the role of judges in member States.
It has an advisory function on general questions relating to independence, impartiality and competence of judges. This leads it to prepare opinions for the attention of the Committee of Ministers. The CCJE may also receive requests for opinions from other Council of Europe bodies.
The CCJE may be called upon to provide practical assistance to help States comply with standards relating to judges.
It is required to take measures to encourage partnerships in the judicial field between courts, judges and judges’ associations.
Although the opinions given by the CCJE take account existing national situations, they mainly contain innovative proposals for improving the status of judges and the service provided to members of the public seeking justice.
Conferences and other events
- Presentation for trainee judges in the Netherlands
Utrecht (The Netherlands)
13 December 2017
- Presentation at the Asser-Institute in The Hague (the Netherlands) of the activities of the CCJE to judges and prosecutors from Arabic countries
The Hague (the Netherlands)
17 November 2017
- Conference on harmonisation of case-law
29 September 2017
- Human Dimension Implementation Meetings - annual human rights conference
19 September 2017