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Reconnecting and working together: Reflections on Matra RoLT 2021 Alumni Day

04 November 2021

“I wish I knew about this fantastic project earlier.” – Tigran Dadunts, Acting Director at the Centre for Legislation Development and Legal Researches for the Ministry of Justice in Armenia, participant of the Public Procurement training

The Matra Rule of Law training (RoLT) programme has produced a close network of engaged professionals who are motivated to bring about reform in their home countries. We look back at the experience of three RoLT participants of the class of 2019 as they reflect on the recent RoLT Alumni event, as well as how the RoLT programme helped them in their professional and personal growth.

Memories of past trainings

 Tigran Dandunts, Acting Director at the Centre for Legislation Development and Legal Researches for the Ministry of Justice in Armenia, participant of the Public Procurement training highlighted the establishment of a network as one of his favourite memories. He shared that “the most enjoyable moment was when we were having a farewell meeting at the hotel lobby with the new friends, recalled what we had been learning there, how it would change us and promised to keep in touch afterwards.”

Alongside this, RoLT alumna Ivana Popovic from Montenegro, former participant of the Public Finance Management training, and employee of the Ministry of Economy explained, “it is quite difficult to differentiate one memory from another” as “participating in RoLT was a unique experience.” Popovic added that “having the pleasure to meet colleagues from other countries and professors from the Netherlands and establishing a joint network” alongside the numerous “lectures, case studies, group work and assignments present a key part in value added by this training programme for my personal development and professional work.”

Establishing a joint network did not only serve to create lasting friendships, as Ivis Nocka, Coordinator Planning-Control, Prime Minister’s Office in Albania, who followed the Decentralisation and Citizenship participation programme recalls:

“RoLT was a perfect training model which endorsed the important role to play in forging this engagement of civil servants and policy makers and in cultivating a sense of shared responsibility for our common future.”

She went on to say, “in my opinion, this is why a key pillar of citizenship education is learning about the Rule of Law.”

Reconnecting with fellow RoLT participants

During the June 2021 Alumni event, many of the participants were seeing each other again for the first time since the end of the training.

“It was nice to see all the familiar faces again, albeit online. We had hoped to have a face-to-face alumni meeting, to recall experiences, share new ideas. Unfortunately, COVID-19 changed these plans. However, the alumni online meeting was well organised and interesting. I honestly did not expect the online meeting to be so much fun.” – Tigran Dadunts

Nocka echoed this sentiment adding that shealways feel(s) happy in following the events of the alumni with my colleagues in the RoLT training programme” as it is a great “opportunity to congratulate them on their paths and above all to see that they are doing well during the pandemic crisis.”

Inspiration from the Alumni Event: Working Together

In her motivational speech as keynote speaker, Ms. Aminata Cairo spoke about the benefits of collaboration.  Popovic also highlighted Cairo’s speech as a confirmation for her beliefs on “how much can be done through joint action.” She believes that through “working together more and creating a larger network… are some of the main tools for making progress in every field.”

Popovic also shared that gathering “after two years, during which we all experienced the COVID-19 pandemic and the daily challenges that the pandemic brought, the event encouraged me to think more about how we need to work continuously on ourselves and adapt to new circumstances. Something that I like to repeat to myself is that we all need to take every opportunity that appears in front of us, so that we do not dwell on missed chances.”

Popovic and Nocka’s words of wisdom for future RoLT participants were to actively forge new connections through sharing experiences and knowledge with the other participants to allow for new ideas.

About the Integrity and Accountability Programme

We believe integrity and accountability are the natural enemies of corruption and nepotism and essential in upholding the rule of law and maintaining a healthy democracy. The rule of law can only function when the judiciary is truly independent, when law enforcement honours the law, when public servants live up to their role to serve and in the community’s interests, and when civil society and the media play the critical role of objective observer. The Integrity and Accountability Programme contributes to a change in mentality and mind-set amongst all sectors of the government towards more proactive support for the rule of law. This will be achieved through increased dialogue and collaboration between the different sectors of government, civil society, and the media, and ensuring all relevant actors have a minimum level of understanding and appreciation for key aspects of the rule of law.