Six lawyers from the Center for Legal Research and Analysis from North Macedonia visited the Netherlands in June. The programme included training sessions, group work on the Center’s advocacy projects and visits to various Dutch institutions. With the support from their Dutch peers the colleagues from North Macedonia developed three advocacy projects: the open judiciary, corruption & integrity in the judiciary and financing of the judiciary.
The group visited the Council for the Judiciary to discuss court budgeting. They also met with the National Ombudsman Reinier van Zuthphen, who shared the peculiarities of his work and the statistics of the citizens’ complaints. The group talked with Dr. Edward Figee about lobbying in the public domain and the necessary personal qualities for successful advocacy campaign. At the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, they learned about the financing of foreign programs and the relationship between the Netherlands and North Macedonia. Later, Martin Kuijer, the Dutch member of the Venice Committee gave an inspiring lecture on the specificities of the Ministry’s work. He explained what it takes to manage a coherent justice system and ensure a high level of citizens’ rights protection. Mr. Kuijer pointed out that having good communication within a team is an important part of it. They also had an opportunity to meet Donald Kalff from Transparency International Netherlands and hear about the backstage of Dutch judiciary’s integrity. This was supplemented by a visit to the Supreme Court, where the participants learned about its function in setting and enforcing policies of unification and harmonisation of court practices.
The North Macedonian delegation discussed the high level of integrity of the Dutch judiciary with Bart van der Wiel from Lawyers for Lawyers and found out about the different leverages in the Dutch system to ensure a fair judicial process. On the last day, the group was welcomed by Anne Mulder, a member of the Second Chamber of the Parliament to put what they had learned into the context of Europe’s interest to secure stability in the Western Balkans and North Macedonia’s progress in starting accession negotiations.
It has been an intense week full of inspiring conversations and ambitious plans. The participants finalised their advocacy projects and acquired new skills to implement them.
Our participants said:
“As the CLRA is an organization working in the field of the judiciary, for us as legal experts the meeting with the Supreme Court and Justice Ybo Buruma was highly impressive and motivational. The role that the Dutch judiciary has in following the evolution of the law and its influence on unifying the judicial practice in the Netherlands is something that North Macedonia should take as a positive example and a guiding standard for the justice system. Additionally, we enjoyed learning more about the application of the court practice in regulating situations that go beyond the legislative framework. We took as a challenge and an inspiration the fact that 95% of Dutch citizens have expressed their confidence in the judicial system, particularly since this has been negatively affected by recent political events in North Macedonia. We are very glad that as part of CILC project, we had the opportunity to work in such an environment and to learn from professionals. We would use this motivation and urge to further improve our work, and to transpose the lessons learned into concrete project proposals.”
The “Effective legal advocacy & lobbying in North Macedonia” project is funded by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs through Nuffic (Orange Knowledge Programme). To find out more – please read the article of our partner.