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So far NICO has created 39 blog entries.

Kazakhstan Sets Example in the CIS

NI-CO’s EU funded project in Kazakhstan has recently celebrated the opening of a one stop Justice Services Centre which will provide free services to the public. The Centre in Astana is the first of its kind in the CIS and represents a real breakthrough in transforming the post-soviet law supervisory state agency to a modern public service-oriented organization.

Located in the General Prosecutor’s Office building, the Centre will focus on the prompt resolution of complaints, raising the level of citizens’ trust in law enforcement and government bodies, whilst eliminating the administrative burdens and bureaucracy. Operating a ‘single window’ system, the Centre allows visitors access to prosecutors, lawyers, mediators and other specialists according to their needs while the effective use of technology widens the number of available services.

The Justice Services Centre is part of a wide reaching criminal justice reform programme in Kazakhstan which the NI-CO EUCJ project team has been delivering since October 2015. Throughout 2017, it is hoped that such centres will be established in other major cities throughout the country.



By |2017-09-28T13:47:58+00:00September 28th, 2017|News|Comments Off on Kazakhstan Sets Example in the CIS

Macedonia – “Developing cooperation between higher education institutions, the private sector and relevant public bodies”



This week NI-CO is delighted to host a group of 6 senior delegates from the Republic of Macedonia who are visiting Belfast to explore how employers and education providers in Northern Ireland are starting to work together to help students access rewarding employment opportunities while stimulating local business growth. The visit is funded under the auspices of an EU Institutional Twinning project which NI-CO is delivering in partnership with the Centre International d’Etudes Pédagogiques (CIEP).

Over the next 5 days, the group will have the opportunity to learn about NI’s latest educational policy developments from senior public servants within the Department for the Economy and examine new, innovative programmes being implemented by the Queen’s University of Belfast, Belfast Metropolitan College and the University of Ulster. Visits to NI Career’s Service and to some of NI’s biggest student employers such as Deloitte and Catalyst Inc, will also provide delegates with an opportunity to explore policy in practice and assess which models may be relevant for Macedonia as they embark upon a new programme of economic and educational reform.

By |2017-05-19T13:42:17+00:00March 28th, 2017|News|Comments Off on Macedonia – “Developing cooperation between higher education institutions, the private sector and relevant public bodies”

Protecting the Consumer in Algeria

NI-CO is delighted to announce the award of its first EU funded institutional twinning project in Algeria: “Collection, Processing and Promotion of the Information in relation with Consumer Protection”.

The 1.2 million euro project was awarded to the UK towards the end of 2016 and will be implemented by NI-CO over the next two years. Resident twinning adviser, Mr Roland Laval and UK Project Leader, Mr John Lawrence, will lead a team of experts who will work alongside the Algerian Ministry of Trade to improve consumer advice and protection and develop a free-market environment favorable to investors.  As well as creating a fully operational call center for consumers’ claims, the project will seek to promote a more inclusive culture that will protect and enhance the consumer rights of female and vulnerable groups.

NI-CO feel very privileged to have been awarded this contract and to have the opportunity of playing a significant role in the further development of the Association Agreement between the EU and Algeria.

By |2017-03-02T08:44:07+00:00March 2nd, 2017|News|Comments Off on Protecting the Consumer in Algeria

Tackling the Waste Challenge in Macedonia

NI-CO has recently celebrated the addition of a new contract to our ever expanding project portfolio in the Western Balkans. The 1 million euro Institutional Twinning project will see NI-CO work alongside the Department of the Environment in Northern Ireland as well as the International and Ibero-American Foundation for Administration and Public Bodies and Galician Regional Ministry of Environment, Spatial Planning and Infrastructures in Spain for a period of 21 months.

Under the skilled direction of NI-CO’s long term expert, Mr Graham Byrne, the UK and Spanish expert team will work to strengthen the administrative capacity of the Ministry for Environment and Physical Planning to implement the Waste Framework Directive and a number of waste stream directives including the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive and the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive. The comprehensive training and capacity building programme will make a significant contribution towards the execution of Macedonia’s Stabilisation and Association Agreement namely Article 80 on economic and social policies ensuring that environmental considerations are also fully incorporated from the outset, Article 68 on legal approximation, Articles 85 and 98 on ensuring environmental protection and Article 103 on combating environmental degradation, with the view to supporting environmental sustainability.

By |2017-05-19T13:42:18+00:00February 20th, 2017|News|Comments Off on Tackling the Waste Challenge in Macedonia

Macedonia – Major Gender Equality Conference in Skopje




The Chief Executive of the Equality Commission in Northern Ireland has told a NI-CO conference in Skopje that the Commission’s vision is equality for all and a common understanding of the benefits of a more equal society.

Dr. Evelyn Collins was the keynote speaker at a major conference – Promoting Gender Equality – in Skopje. The conference was organised by an EU-funded Twinning Project on supporting the implementation of gender equality, where the lead partner is the United Kingdom and the junior partners are Portugal and Romania.  The purpose of this ground-breaking project is to build capacity on gender equality, as a key human right and fundamental freedom, for people of all genders.

The project is led jointly by NI-CO and the Department for Equal Opportunities of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy.

Dr. Collins underlined the importance of having an influential, independent equality body, as part of the national equality architecture; drawing on Northern Ireland and wider European experience to demonstrate the continuing need to eliminate discrimination and promote equality in Macedonia.

Conference participants reported that they were inspired by Dr Collins’ speech and that the practical examples gave them a real insight into how to achieve equality for all.

Other speakers at the conference included, Ms Patricia Carey, Resident Twinning Adviser (on secondment to NI-CO from the Executive Office), Joint Project Leader Ms Elena Grozdanova, State Counsellor, Minister of Labour and Social Policy, Ms Sophie Beaumont, Programme Manager Education and Gender, EU Delegation, Skopje, Ms Anita Sares, Commission for Equality in Labour and Employment, Portugal, Ms Monaliza Elena Cirstea, Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Protection and the Elderly, Romania and Ms Eileen Sung, UK Project Leader.



By |2017-05-19T13:42:18+00:00October 19th, 2016|News|Comments Off on Macedonia – Major Gender Equality Conference in Skopje

Sharing EU best experience with Montenegro


This month NI-CO played host to a small delegation of leading officials from the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare in Montenegro. The group was comprised of the Head of Directorate for Social Welfare and Child Protection, Budimirka Đukanović, the Senior Advisor for Child Protection, Svetlana Sovilj, and Marija Baković, Senior Advisor. The purpose behind the visit was to aid in the process of expanding the child foster care system in Montenegro, with the eventual aim of encouraging de-institutionalisation.

During their visit, NI-CO’s Montenegrin guests met with various Northern Irish organisations, including the Department of Health NI, the South Eastern Health and Social Services Trust, the Health and Social Care Board and the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust. As well as being introduced to NI’s foster care system, the delegation were able to benefit from NI’s expertise in relation to the successful implementation of EU directives and institutional frameworks in this sector.

Discussions were also held concerning the development of foster care as a less restrictive form of child protection, with a particular focus on the importance of implementing de-institutionalisation throughout Montenegro.

A visit from the Northern Health and Social Services Trust also afforded our guests the opportunity to gather information about alternative forms of foster care which have yet to be developed in Montenegro, such as the Kinship fostering practice (the system of fostering by family members). A trip to the Fostering Network further facilitated the sharing of information and experience concerning the role of NGOs in providing support for fostering and child protection services.

Our guests finished their visit by reviewing the lessons learned and discussing how these could be usefully incorporated into practical strategies for future work in Montenegro.

By |2017-05-19T13:42:18+00:00August 1st, 2016|News|Comments Off on Sharing EU best experience with Montenegro

NI-CO breaks into the Education Sector

NI-CO is delighted to announce the award of our first ever Education focused EU institutional twinning project with the Republic of Macedonia. Working in partnership with Centre International d’Etudes Pédagogiques (CIEP), the €750,000 contract has been designed to enhance links between higher education providers and employers thereby improving the general understanding of the skills and qualifications required for Macedonia’s future economic growth.

Building on the work of organisations such as the World Bank, the National Centre for Development of Innovation and Entrepreneurial Learning and Erasmus+, the European project team will work alongside the Ministry of Education and Science and Ministry of Labour and Social Policy to undertake a rigorous quality assessment of current HEI curricula and study programmes on offer. Courses will be adapted to improve the quantity and quality of Macedonia’s human capital and increase national competitiveness at international level.

The project will also invest significant resources into building the capacity of University Career Centres and Boards for Trust and Co-operation with the Public which are both dedicated to reducing the gap between supply and demand in Macedonia’s labour market. As well as receiving training on the latest international tools for data collection and dissemination, staff will also benefit from courses on event management, PR and improved community engagement.

By |2016-08-01T16:37:50+00:00August 1st, 2016|News|Comments Off on NI-CO breaks into the Education Sector

NI-CO secures first contract in the Philippines

NI-CO is delighted to announce the award of our first contract working with Parliamentarians on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines. The project will be delivered in partnership with Politics Plus and has been designed to strengthen democracy in the former Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, Bangsamoro.  Building upon a study programme to Northern Ireland for Philippine legislators organised by NI-CO in November 2014, this UK funded capacity building programme will assist the transition to a new Parliament in 2016 by building an effective legislative secretariat to support a professional cadre of elected members. The project has been developed with the full support of the Government in the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and will prove vital to the successful implementation of the Bangsamoro Agreement and addressing the existing dynastic politics of patronage and warlordism in the region.

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By |2017-05-19T13:42:21+00:00October 27th, 2015|News|Comments Off on NI-CO secures first contract in the Philippines

Improving Public Perception of Rule of Law in Myanmar by 56% – NI-CO’s Community Policing Project heralded a success

Last month, NI-CO celebrated the successful completion of a €9 million EU funded Rule of Law contract in Myanmar on which we were responsible for delivering the Community Policing Component. As the 22 month project ended, the Myanmar Police Force (MPF) and NI-CO experts had exceeded client expectations in training over 1350 MPF, representing around 27% of the total operational strength of police in the Yangon Region.

NI-CO’s long term expert in Myanmar, David Hamilton MBE commented ‘Community policing is about making communities safe and feel safe and MPF has come a long way to achieving this during the lifetime of this project. In just a short space of time, the introduction of Community Policing has seen change, positive change and hopefully lasting change.  Myself and my team of experts resourced from across the UK, Sweden and Ireland worked in partnership with the MPF to deliver a number of very successful initiatives to improve public confidence in policing and restore trust in the country’s Rule of Law. For the first time in Yangon for example a schools education package was developed across 3 age groups to tackle important subjects such as Stranger Danger, Drugs and Alcohol, Fighting, Bullying etc. We also donated 100 bicycles to the police to help make police patrols more visible, more accessible and to improve response times. Special thanks must go to MPF, its Townships Commanders, Officers and Trainers, but also to the Community for playing their role in making Community Policing the success it has been.’

As part of NI-CO’s programme, the EU carried out a survey in both MTN and Sanchaung Townships asking “What changes to policing have you seen in the last 12 months”.  The response from over 56% of the people was that they had seen positive changes to policing.  Considering this was a short project, the results were overwhelmingly positive.  Not only did more than 56% of the people state that they had seen positive change but they explained where that change had occurred, for example:

They now see more patrolling, including bicycle patrolling, day and night. 

They said the police were now doing more law enforcement.

Crime has reduced.

This is only the beginning for Community Policing in Myanmar and NI-CO look forward to offering more support to community policing in the coming years. 

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By |2017-05-19T13:42:21+00:00October 7th, 2015|News|Comments Off on Improving Public Perception of Rule of Law in Myanmar by 56% – NI-CO’s Community Policing Project heralded a success

NI-CO Welcomes Chevening Scholars

This month NICO were delighted to host a FCO funded study visit for four professionals from the Philippines who have been studying in the UK during 2015 as part of the prestigious Chevening Scholarship programme. The global Chevening programme is funded by the UK Government and is designed to offer financial support to potential future leaders, decision-makers and opinion formers to study for a Master’s degree at one of the UK’s leading universities and the opportunity to become part of an influential and highly regarded global network. The FCO were keen that the group from the Philippines took time out during their university study, to visit Northern Ireland where many parallels can be drawn between the Peace process and Good Friday Agreement and the Philippine Government/Mindanao Liberation Front peace process.

Left to right the participants are Mr Junefe Payot, Dr Albert Domingo, Gareth McGrath, Director of Clerking and Reporting, NI Assembly, John Stewart, Director of Information and Outreach, NI Assembly,  Ms Armi Beatriz Bayot and Ms Maharlika Alonto

Left to right the participants are Mr Junefe Payot, Dr Albert Domingo, Gareth McGrath, Director of Clerking and Reporting, NI Assembly, John Stewart, Director of Information and Outreach, NI Assembly, Ms Armi Beatriz Bayot and Ms Maharlika Alonto

During the intensive 2 day visit, the delegation met with a number of organisations including the Northern Ireland Assembly, NGO’s and community based services that have been fundamental during the peace process through supporting post conflict rehabilitation, development and inclusion who provided the group with a holistic and comprehensive understanding of the significance of a negotiated political settlement as a step towards sustainable conflict resolution and development.

By |2017-05-19T13:42:22+00:00August 4th, 2015|News|Comments Off on NI-CO Welcomes Chevening Scholars