JIN ASEAN – IFCE Introduction Workshop: Striving for Court Excellence in Lao PDR

October 7, 2022

The People’s Supreme Court, together with the United Nations Development Programme hosted a three-day workshop gathering more than 40 judges from Central and Regional Courts to conduct a self-assessment of the court system in Lao PDR and begin developing a plan to advance implement the International Framework of Court Excellence, or the IFCE. The plan aims to support the government’s ambition of advancing the rule of law by guiding the judiciary to fulfill its role in achieving both the 9th National Socio-Economic Development Plan and the Sustainable Development Goals.  

The IFCE is a quality management system – designed to assist courts to improve their performance. It is the product of an international attempt to identify a process for achieving court excellence regardless of the location or size of a court or the resources or technology available. The Framework was designed by more than 50 courts from all over the world, including Australia, Indonesia and Singapore. It recalls the core values of courts excellence, including equality, fairness, impartiality, independence, competence, integrity, transparency, accessibility, timeliness and certainty. Seven key areas are identified to help guide courts in integrating these values in the operation of the judicial system, including by focusing on Court Leadership, Court Workforce, Court Infrastructure, Court User Engagement, Accessible Court Services, and Public Trust in the court system. 

During the workshop, judges from the People’s Supreme Court and Regional Courts first conducted a self-assessment and analysis by scoring the performance of their own courts from 0 to 5 points or from 0 point to 10 point depending on the key area. This was done to help identify the challenges and key priorities to address in the Court Excellence workplan. 

Mr. Khamphanh Bounphakhom, Vice President of the People’s Supreme Court, and co-chair of the workshop, underlined that “the international standards under the International Framework for Court Excellence will act as good guidance for the Lao courts to move toward achieving court excellence.” He added: “We are glad that the framework is in line with our Court Development Plan (2021-2025) aimed to improve quality of the Lao court. This three-day workshop was very valuable for the knowledge of Lao judiciary, judges and judicial staff. I hope it will uniformize our practice over the country and that we will benefit from the experiences shared by one another and from other countries adopting the Framework.” 

Ms. Catherine Phuong, Officer in Charge, UNDP, shared as co-chair that “a strong well-functioning judiciary system serves as a check and balance of the other two branches of the government, namely the executive and the legislative.  Given the key role played by the judiciary, as recognized by both the UN at the global level and the government of Lao PDR through the 9th NSEDP, it is critical to establish clear standards of practice for the courts in Lao PDR, and set out a plan to move towards meeting these standards. Which is why we are delighted to support the People’ Supreme Court in integrating this Framework into the Lao judicial system.”  

Among the challenges identified was the need to digitalize the court system, and capacity development for court staff, as well as increased public outreach and increased awareness on the role and work of the courts.  

The workshop was conducted under “The Initiative of Court Excellence in Lao PDR (ICE)” project, running 2022-2023, as part of a regional project which also covers Cambodia, Lao PDR, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. The project is supported by the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs under the US State Department. 

Based on the results of this first workshop, UNDP and PSC will host the follow up workshop that will build on the challenges identified in the self-assessment to develop the final action plan and implement priority activities aimed at advancing both court excellence and the rule of law in Lao PDR.  


For inquiries please contact: 

Aksonethip Somvorachit,  

Communications Analyst, UNDP Lao PDR