The FRANCISCO DE VITORIA JUDGES ASSOCIATION (AJFV) is currently comprised of 865 active Judges of all ranks from lower-level judges to Supremo Court’s Justices, all united by one common goal: to defend and promote constitutional values and principles.
Our internal organisation is based on democratic and pluralist principles with full voting freedom and internal democracy as evidence that plurality is not meant to be dramatic but rather natural and consubstantial. At the same time, it is our collective belief that the association should not be used as a platform for gains of personal interest.
The following also stand out among our aims:
- understanding Justice as a societal service,
- being fully willing to improve the Administration of Justice,
- furthering guarantees of an independent judiciary, not as a privilege reserved to judges but rather as a guarantee for citizenship,
- seeking to reflect judges as part of the social reality and
- defending the legitimate and reasonable interests of our members.
Furthermore, we remain independent from the public powers, political parties and unions, without prejudice to any necessary collaboration and loyalty, because the shape of the social and democratic rule of law and the complex problems society faces today require ever more concerted action.
Our judiciary model is, thus, that of a constitutional, independent, immovable and responsible judiciary only subject to the Rule of Law, which must be able to enjoy decent working conditions and be deserving of the respect of its co-citizens.
THE ORIGINS: The judiciary association movement began in Spain in the year 1979, following the entry into force of the Spanish Constitution as article 127 thereof permits the professional association of judges and magistrates, despite upholding the ban on belonging to political parties and unions.
The Democratic Justice association existed back in the pre-constitutional era, but it cannot be considered a judiciary association since it was not a judges association in the strictest of terms as other people from other bodies related to the administration of justice were also included.
THE PROFESSIONAL MAGISTRACY ASSOCIATION (APM): In view of the new legal framework established by the Spanish Constitution, a group of judges decided to create a judiciary association, the APM, which was founded with a single vocation to include judges of all inclinations and perceptions.
This initial embryonic idea would have been the best option; however, as a reflection of a lack of the essential flexibility, the most conservative-leaning core of the APM would not respect ideological pluralism and imposed majority criteria when making appointments and filling executive offices, rolling right over any minority sectors or schools of thought, which led to the division of the APM and the exit of the sector from the dissolved Democratic Justice, which created a judiciary association known as Judges for Democracy.
FRANCISCO DE VITORIA (AJFV): On 10 January 1984, a group of APM judges freely decided to constitute a school of thought within the judiciary association APM called FRANCISCO DE VITORIA, advocating in its founding document the principles and values that would later form our Association’s bylaws.
However, the judiciary group Francisco de Vitoria agreed on 14 March 1984 to separate from the APM and create a completely new association following the IV APM Congress, which had prevented any real development of schools of thought.
THE WHEREAS MANIFESTO: On 27 September 1984, the judiciary group FRANCISCO DE VITORIA issued a document named the Whereas Manifesto after the initial wording, constituting itself as an independent judiciary association and calling upon all judges who shared its principles and values to join. And so began the history of our Association with a small number of members and great organisational difficulties yet immense excitement and a desire to work to defend our aims and objectives.
THE EXPANSION PHASE: The small foundational core of the FRANCISCO DE VITORIA Association grew quickly in the beginning to reach more than 200 members in just two or three years, which led to some organisational and identity-related problems that were quickly resolved. There has been sustained growth since that time and we now boast 828 members as a well-rooted association today which is united and respected in all areas due to its seriousness, hard work and ideological independence.
THE FUTURE: The members of FRANCISCO DE VITORIA look upon the future with realistic optimism as we are a solid association, the principles of which are shared by many non-member colleagues as proven by the result of the only democratic judicial elections.
And we are now the second-largest Spanish judiciary association with much higher continuous growth forecasts than the others. Therefore, we see the future with reasonable optimism and in the hope that we’ll one day be a reference within judiciary associationism with the ability to continue attracting new judges and be attractive to our very society.
Francisco de Vitoria
Mastermind, jurisconsult, theologist, writer and economist
The AJFV is named after Francisco de Vitoria. Born in Burgos or Vitoria at the end of the 15th century, he was educated in theology, philosophy and the humanities at the Dominican convent San Pablo de Burgos. Three years later (in 1508), he switched to the Sorbonne associated Saint-Jacques school in Paris where he came into contact with the humanist spirit arriving from Italy that would impregnate his work – which would only see the light following his death in 1546, thanks to the dictated notes (“relessons”) preserved like gems by his students.
He began teaching in 1513 in Paris at the Saint-Jacques school in what was known as the “magnis scholis”, teaching art and theology and receiving the academic degrees of Licentiate and Doctor around 1521. It was around that time that he returned to the then capital of the Empire (Valladolid) where he taught at the San Gregorio school, a real Faculty of Theology, until 1526, when he moved to Salamanca. After becoming a University Chair in Theology, he remained there until his death.
It was there that he broadened his teaching and reconstructed methods and topics to create a real school of theological-legal thought with his lessons and relessons “de Indiis”, “de Jure Belli” and “De potestate civili” particularly standing out. In the first, he rescues Roman doctrine from natural law and, in the last, he uses the Law of Nations to plant the seeds for modern or international public law.