The High Court of Costa Rica recognizes the Earth Charter

In 2008, the President of the Supreme Court of Costa Rica called for the creation of an Ethical Management System, for monitoring the Internal Control Act, which applies to all government institutions. This system was approved by the High Court and all subsidiary departments and agencies within the Costa Rican judiciary. The Commission for Ethics and Values (CEV) and the Technical Secretariat for Ethics and Values (TSEV) are the responsible agencies for the design, implementation, and monitoring of the system.

In the case of the judiciary, this Commission is chaired by those in senior positions and is composed of the directors of the board and directors of the management areas. Given her career and experience, Olga Ovares Araya was appointed as director. She has worked with the Earth Charter for many years, especially when she served as director of the National Commission of Values.

The Institutional Ethics Management System of the Costa Rican Judiciary consists of the following processes for its elaboration: 1. The CEV and TSEV, 2. strategic planning, 3. ethical diagnosis, 4. shared values 5. an ethics manual, 6. the axiological policy (PA), 7. legitimation of ethical commitments, 8. strategy of moral education, 9. communication strategy and, 10. evaluation and monitoring, which apply to the entire judicial population: Judiciary (judges), Public Defender, Public Ministry, the Office of Judicial Investigation and Management.

Each process is built with the participation of staff and is in the process of axiological policy whereby those higher up in the authority chain take on the challenge and ethical commitment to ethically manage over the next 15 years in order to redesign the institutional ethical climate. The axiological policy aims to “…strengthen and promote courses of action, towards an ethical climate that allows appropriate and controlled demonstrations and performances by the people who work in the judiciary of the Republic of Costa Rica.” (Axiological Policy Compendium, 2011-2016).

The process of developing this policy considered four phases of development, one of them being substantiation, an element of the foundation allowing for the provision of a legal framework, that is to say, identifying legal and organizational antecedents as national and international ethical standards. Olga Ovares stated that the Earth Charter was used as one of these international ethical instruments.

This policy addresses the analysis of nine topics or institutional ethical issues and all the leadership (198), including judges and magistrates, brought more than 700 alternative solutions to the identified ethical issues. As a result, the High Court of Costa Rica, in passing this Axiological Policy on September 12, 2011, acknowledged the Earth Charter, making it a reference to address ethical dilemmas and committing itself to ethically compromise itself accordingly. This agreement of the High Court of the Costa Rican Judiciary offers the Earth Charter as an innovative tool for use by judges in their judgments.

Although such actions are undoubtedly a great achievement, it has been observed that there is little knowledge or use of the Earth Charter by the people who work in the Jurisdictional field in the country, so it will be necessary to increase and strengthen staff training in general, and judges of the Costa Rica Judiciary in particular.