Disciplinary law thriving on the return of the in person experience

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Disciplinary law thriving on the return of the in person experience

Paul Colston interviews Bogota-based Martha Lucia Bautista Cely (pictured), secretary-general of the International Confederation of Disciplinary Law (CIDD) and director of Colombia’s national Institute of Disciplinary Law (ICDD). She is the organiser of both organisations’ conference programmes

Tell us about your national institute and international association and their memberships and activities, and about the importance of meetings to them.

Both the International Confederation of Disciplinary Law (CIDD) and the Colombian Institute of Disciplinary Law (ICDD) are scientific organisations of professionals specialised in disciplinary law, and are dedicated exclusively to the study, development, research, advancement and improvement of disciplinary law and related issues.

The ICDD, a non-profit legal entity, has 70 founding members and is independent of state control agencies and focused on promoting disciplinary law within Colombia based in Bogota. The Institute promotes the importance of our discipline as an indispensable tool of the State and helps disseminate a culture against corruption and administrative dishonesty.

Our Colombian Institute offers academic support to public entities in their administrative management and legal security endeavours and works hand in hand with public servants in disseminating the regulations that govern them as well as seeing to their strict compliance. Another role is building up a public ethic in the fulfilment of official duties, through continuous academic conferences, workshops, seminars, diploma courses and congresses.

The creation of national institutions such as the ICDD is one of the primary objectives of the International Confederation of Disciplinary Law CIDD, which assists various countries in the creation of international disciplinary frameworks, including research and dissemination of disciplinary law. We also organise many international congresses.

Why are conferences/meetings and seminars so important to your members and also for meeting with professionals from other countries?

The Colombian Institute of Disciplinary Law (CIDD) has been recognised by the entire public sector for its successful contribution to  the fight against administrative corruption. It has not only updated and improved the work and professionalism of its own associates but also primarily the activity of ‘public servants’, fostering in them a new level of care and responsibility in the execution of their tasks.

Of course, to ensure the public administration is a model of compliance, efficiency, effectiveness and impartiality, we need to constantly update the knowledge base. The importance of legal knowledge from the perspective of comparative law is indisputable and great value is gained through international conferences and the active participation and networking of international experts.

How did you manage to keep in touch and e-meet during Covid-19 lockdowns, particularly with international contacts? Which new event platforms did you use?

Due to the pandemic and measures adopted such as quarantine and self-isolation, we assumed various scenarios of remote work, as our organisations initially tried to manage communication via telephone, internet and by adopting new formats of interaction with team members and national and international colleagues virtually.

We used a variety of electronic meetings and virtual team events with platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and WebEx.

We created events and worked with colleagues abroad, sharing best practices adopted by public administrations all coping with the pandemic. We exchanged public information on how best to cope and to avoid the greater risks for public administration in the face of a situation that was unpredicatable and never before experienced by any single state.

How important were your association’s remote meetings for your members in these circumstances and do you envisage keeping a hybrid and/or virtual element of meeting in your conference plans for the post-Covid future?

Having been able to maintain communication with our associates and colleagues, we did remain active in the new virtual legal environment, but it does not really fulfil our objectives.

With the increased relaxation of restrictions around the world, we are seeing the reactivation of our organisations and the return to in-person events is gaining momentum. However, the process is not as immediate as we would like and facing this reality means maintaining what is practical and useful in the immediate future, in terms of a ‘semi-virtual’ and hybrid organisation of meetings to maintain full international communication.

In the long-term, surely, taking advantage of the advancement of technological tools, we must design and generate our hybrid academic meeting spaces, but there will always be a greater emphasis on the face-to-face aspect due to the particular nature of the ‘depth’ of knowledge and communication that we are concerned with in our academies and institutes.

The legal events that we handle through our organisations are no longer exclusively dedicated to transmitting information, given its availability in electronic media. The point is how our exponents of high professional standards can motivate the students in the generation of new knowledge, and emphasise what to do with that knowledge. For this, human interaction has shown to be irreplaceable.

So, how are your associations approaching opening up to meeting in person again. Do you have some in-person conferences on the horizon? If so, where, and why were those destinations selected?

The Colombian Institute of Disciplinary Law has, since the end of 2021, been gradually holding meetings and conferences in person again. Now we have several legal reforms that imminently deserve debate and then publishing and implementation through our academic meetings programme.

The International Confederation of Disciplinary Law (CIDD), for 2022, meanwhile, is focused on organising the International Congress on Disciplinary Law jointly with associated organisations in Colombia, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Venezuela, Panama, Dominican Republic, Barcelona, Peru, as well as with organisatons still in formation in Madrid, Paraguay and Costa Rica. The impact that disciplinary reforms in Colombia generate in other countries is quite significant.  At present we are in the process of selecting the best destination and venue for that event.

What do you look for in terms of an ideal/favourite conference location and venue? Are these criteria changing?

The main criterion we traditionally take into account when organising our International Congress on Disciplinary Law is the high professional profile of its attendees. They are highly specialised professionals, experts, high court magistrates, public servants and legal professionals. We are mindful that the success and recognition of our events is based on their exclusivity, academic quality and general organisation, security, connectivity and visitor attractions and amenities offered by the host destination/venue. An additional criterion is the guarantee of health protocols, vaccination rates in the host city, and also connectivity with airlines and hotel stock that complies with biosafety protocols.

And what about the Latin American business travel and conference market. Is it beginning to return?

The Latin American market is making great efforts to encourage the normalisation of conference and meetings attendance, a position that our associations fully share, since our central objective is focused on updating knowledge through training.

We must work together with governments to, first, regain confidence, while guaranteeing health protocols and emphasising the importance of raising vaccination levels.

With regard to conferences, seminars and workshops, it is necessary to speed up face-to-face attendance, and, for this all organisations have an essential role to play in decisively resuming activity at least at the levels we were used to. We must take that step towards the normalisation of our future.

Several countries in Latin America do not have what is required to return quickly to the long-awaited normality in the conference and business travel market, but trust is also contagious and when some countries begin to lead, the others can quickly catch up.

Which meetings industry trade shows do you attend and do you find them useful?

Our associations have been invited for several years to the Fiexpo meetings industry show on our continent and its related events. The last one we participated in was with the CIDD in November, 2021. It played a decisive role in the process of inducing a collective reactivation of business travel services and conferences. There was a great display of optimism on view and the exchange of experiences and collective support was of the highest importance for the market.

There is certainly a multitude of possibilities for effective exchanges with  other professionals: To get deeper knowledge of the conference market via the network of ICCA and its many data, services and opportunities for development is also good for us in terms of organising our events.

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World. Write Paul an E-mail

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