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Rule of Law Training

The Matra Rule of Law Training Programme is designed to strengthen institutional capacity in the field of rule of law within government organisations in Albania, Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Kosovo, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Turkey, and Ukraine. To this end several training programmes are offered per year, each introducing the participants to best practices in a wide range of rule of law themes. Through interactive sessions combining theory, practical skills and study visits, policy advisors, members of the judiciary and other civil servants working in the government and justice sectors acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to drive reforms in their home countries. In addition, by taking part in the training programme, participants become part of a large transnational network of alumni, lecturers and relevant government departments in the Netherlands and in the target countries. This network offers a platform for learning, exchange and collaboration.

The Matra Rule of Law Training Programme is designed and delivered by the Netherlands Helsinki Committee, Leiden Law School, and The Hague Academy for Local Governance. It is financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherland. For questions relating to the Matra Rule of Law Training Programme or application process please email: Matrarolt (AT) nhc (DOT) nl.

Online training programmes

The following training programmes have been offered previously:

1. Human Rights and Minorities

The promotion and protection of human rights is inextricably linked to the rule of law. However, despite existing legislation, the protection of vulnerable groups such as ethnic minorities, LGBTI, and women remains problematic. This requires continuous reflection on the importance of human rights in a wide range of policy areas, on the relationship of countries with the European Court of Human Rights, and on the necessity to take EU guidelines and international human rights treaties into account when drawing up policies and legislation.

2. Detention and Alternative Sanctions 

Finding the right balance between sanctions, reintegration and the protection of victims and society is important for the execution of criminal sanctions in a manner that is respectful of fundamental rights. This is based on the idea that a punishment in criminal justice serves various purposes: retribution, deterrence, public security and reducing recidivism. Modern criminal justice systems strongly value reducing recidivism, which is enhanced by humane treatment of offenders, a criminal justice system oriented towards rehabilitation, and a profound consideration of proportionality, subsidiarity and effectiveness in sanctioning. So what are possible alternatives to detention and how can these, and improved reintegration strategies, have a positive effect on perpetrators, victims and society as a whole?

3. Attitude for Change

This training is for civil servants who want to improve their leadership skills and learn more about ethical leadership. Senior civil servants and policy makers at public institutions from different levels of government (national, regional, local) such as Ministries, local governments, and anti-corruption agencies charged with the development and implementation of integrity plans and policies for civil servants in their respective countries are invited to apply. This is a five week online personal development trajectory in which you can develop your own skills to become a more ethical leader within your institution or speciality. We are looking for motivated and ambitious participants who want to improve their personal leadership skills to achieve the change for the societies they represent. Do you want to share your experience, knowledge and skill set with other professionals working for government institutions, are you interested in the topics of core values and ethical leadership and are you open to (group) coaching on the changes you would like to implement?

4. Integrity of Civil Servants

The training programme aims to increase understanding of the international and EU framework for integrity policy and the national context of the participants´ countries. The course provides insight in the roles and responsibilities of the different actors in promoting integrity of civil servants. The seven building blocks of integrity will be discussed, as well as coherence of integrity policies with the overall financial and HR-policy. Examples from The Netherlands will be discussed and European organisations such as OLAF will present their work in the field of anti-corruption. In addition, knowledge and skills to develop a sustainable policy for the promotion of integrity of civil servants at different government levels will be enhanced. Special attention will be paid to obstacles and dilemma´s in the implementation process and how to overcome them.

5. Administration of Justice

The training programme aims to increase understanding of the European standards relating to the right to a fair trial, more in particular in the area of criminal law, and of factors that determine the legitimacy, integrity and transparency of the administration of justice. Presentations on the Dutch approach in dealing with these standards will encourage the participants to reflect on the situation in their own country and to identify areas for reform. In addition, knowledge and skills to develop a sustainable policy for the improvement of the administration of justice will be enhanced. Special attention will be paid to obstacles and dilemmas in the implementation process and how to overcome them.

6. Freedom of the Media

A free press is crucial for democracy. As a public watchdog the press can provide a platform for public debate; where necessary it can denounce instances of maladministration. But the freedom of expression carries with it duties and responsibilities. How does one deal with situations where the press is used for propaganda purposes or for the distribution of ‘fake news’? What is the role of social media?

7. Decentralisation and Citizen Participation

Decentralisation brings decision-making processes closer to citizens. Thus, it can contribute to more participatory, transparent and responsive governance. However, it raises a number of questions that should be addressed. How should inter-administrative relations be managed in a decentralised system? How can sub-national governments be established that have the capacity to effectively provide services in an inclusive manner? How does one balance fiscal, political and administrative decentralisation?

8. Public Finance and Procurement

A healthy state of public finance requires careful management of government spending, revenues, loans and debts. Deficits and debts should remain within the limits set by international and domestic standards. Key values should be legal certainty and predictability, transparency, integrity, effective policies to prevent corruption and fraud, and also decentralisation. Additionally, in the EU, government spending on goods and services amounts to approximately 20% of the GDP. Because of these significant financial stakes and the need for close interaction between the public and the private sectors, it is crucial to provide clear rules for public procurement. This requires continuous reflection on fair and appropriate procedures that guarantee equal opportunities among competitors.