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How the Legal Development Network will work in 2023

Publication date: May 23, 2023

2022 became the year of unprecedented challenges of a full-scale war of the russian federation against Ukraine. Approaching humanitarian catastrophe, systematic violations of human rights, and adaptation of legislation to the conditions and requirements of martial law. All these components forced the Legal Development Network (LDN) to mobilize resources, activate partnerships, join forces, and start rapidly implementing assistance strategies.

Thanks to such rapid and powerful work, the public union was able to enter 2023 with new opportunities. In order to systematize tasks and priorities and sum up the results of the past year, the Network gathered for a General meeting at the beginning of April 2023. In addition to other important issues discussed by the participants, during the event they jointly worked out an effective operational plan, according to which the Network will work in 2023, and also elected a new member of the Board, a representative of the NGO “Podillia Legal League” Andrii Misiats.

Photo: Maksym Ilchyshen, Head of the Board of the Legal Development Network, program manager of the NGO “Kamianets-Podilskyi Lawyers’ Association”. Photo by Halyna Kolesnyk/LDN

“I believe that we managed to organize and synchronize to such an extent because each of us is united by common values. People, as they were, remain the focus of our activities. Partnership and synergy are fundamental to our work, as well as professionalism. And also trust. After all, we trust each other and internal institutions. Unbiasedness and open-mindedness. Due to the fact that we have defined strategic areas of work, we manage to sustainably withstand the changes and crises that come our way,” said Maksym Ilchyshen, Head of the Board of the Legal Development Network.

Photo: the working moment of the General meeting. Photo by Halyna Kolesnyk/LDN

Among the main achievements of the Network in 2022: 

  • 127,000 legal consultations were provided by member organizations of the Legal Development Network.
  • 15 organizations systematically provided assistance to Ukrainian men and women through the online chat of the Legal Development Network.
  • Implementation of the practice of mentoring support has begun. Individual representatives of organizations were able to gain knowledge and mentoring skills. In the future, this may become one of the services provided by the LDN.
  • More than 300 legal educational materials (success stories, consultations, useful materials) were created, which received 3.5 million views.
  • Despite the obstacles and challenges, the Legal Development Network continues to coordinate the work of the regional partnership in Eastern Europe and Central Asia at the international level and participates in the development of strategies for the post-war reconstruction of Ukraine with the introduction of people-centered approaches at the international level.
  • Together with the partner NGO “Legal Innovations” (LinGo) a platform to help Ukrainians abroad was created. With its help, more than 80,000 of our citizens in different countries received consultations in 120,000 cases.
  • A study of the adaptation of local self-government bodies to wartime conditions in three communities was conducted, which made it possible to conduct a larger-scale study together with the Association of Ukrainian Cities of the work of 13 communities in the areas of access to justice, local budgets, and security.
  • Thanks to internal experts, and representatives of member organizations, we trained initiative groups, activists, and representatives of local self-government bodies on how to monitor the distribution of humanitarian aid in the community, document war crimes and observe humanitarian law.
  • The Legal Development Network initiated the creation of the “Solidarity and Justice” Coalition. Together with our partners, we coordinated the distribution of more than 500 tons of humanitarian aid to more than 105,000 community residents.
  • We contributed to the creation and formation of individual components of the socially important initiative “Vulyk Zmistiv” (Beehive of Meanings) in the communities of Ivano-Frankivsk, Lviv, and Vinnytsia oblasts, which deals with comprehensive assistance to internally displaced persons: settlement, legal and psychological aid, employment, integration into community life and much more.
  • 11 national and international initiatives have been implemented, for the implementation of which 91 experts from member organizations and 28 from external ones have been involved.
Photo: Executive Director of the Legal Development Network Olga Nastina. Photo by Halyna Kolesnyk/LDN

“We work in fields with a huge scale of human rights violations. In terms of expert and legal support of communities, we had tremendous experience until February 24, 2022, but last year forced us to take a short break, regroup and then resume our activities. We have to find opportunities for more comprehensive assistance to people in communities in the conditions of their insufficient funding. Due to the challenges of a full-scale war, many organizations are forced to reformat their work, seek and find new partnerships, and new opportunities. Therefore, the question of how to remain capable in the competitive environment of the human rights movement is open to us,” Olga Nastina, executive director of the Legal Development Network, summarized the challenges faced in 2022 and which continue in 2023.

The Legal Development Network in 2023

Taking into account the experience gained, the representatives of the LDN member organizations determined that the Network will continue to support the provision of primary legal assistance through online consultations and possible online communication.

In addition to internally displaced persons, the focus will be on legal assistance to military personnel and their family members, people in difficult life circumstances, those who have experienced domestic and gender-based violence, children affected by war, and people with disabilities. Due to the change in legislation and the complication of the situation in the field of human rights protection of victims of a full-scale war, there was a significant demand for increased expertise of representatives of member organizations.

Photo: Andrii Korbetskyi, representative of CF “New Perspective”, Kamianka-Buzka, Lviv oblast.Photo by Halyna Kolesnyk/LDN

“In 2023, we pay particular attention to monitoring legal issues. The cases found, in particular those related to the provision of secondary legal aid, will become the basis for the implementation of more effective solutions. In addition, an important component is the support of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, and the development of mediation services in communities. We hope that this year we will be able to implement support for these mechanisms,” said Andrii Korbetskyi, a representative of CF “New Perspective”, Kamianka-Buzka, Lviv oblast.

In the direction of expert legal support for communities in 2023, the Network of Legal Development will implement initiatives with a focus on overcoming the consequences of war.

Thus, representatives of member organizations noted that the following require close attention:

  • legal support of small and medium-sized businesses, in particular, relocated ones;
  • promotion of employment of internally displaced persons, and their social integration;
  • creating a register of social service providers at the regional and local levels;
  • creation of educational products for local self-government bodies;
  • determination of educational needs and support for the activities of public councils, in which displaced persons and combatants will participate;
  • development of the jury institute.

In addition, the development of assistance tools for relocated and host communities is planned.

Photo (from left to right): representative of CF “New Perspective” (Kamianka-Buzka) Andrii Korbetskyi; member of the board of the NGO “STEP” (Zaporizhia) Oleksii Ahientaiev; representative of the NGO “Time to gather Ukrainians” (Mykolaiv) Oleksii Sydorchuk. Photo by Halyna Kolesnyk/LDN

“While working in Zaporizhzhia, our organization has repeatedly seen how representatives of relocated local self-government bodies, employees of displaced schools, health care institutions, and other communal institutions need legal, psychological assistance and other types of social services. I think that the study of their problems and needs will help to create more complex solutions,” said Oleksii Ahientaiev.

With regard to organizational development, in 2023 the Network will more systematically build a foundation for building advocacy potential, from auditing the capabilities of member organizations to (in the perspective of several years) creating an analytical center.

The institutional development of the Network takes into account the challenges that exist now and may arise in the future for the Network in general and for member organizations in particular. Here are some implementation examples:

  • The LDN will create a plan to support member organizations, including those that will return to the de-occupied territories. After all, they will need additional resources to resume their activities.
  • Internal policies and procedures need to be revised to take into account both the experience gained and future development needs.
  • During the period of martial law, member organizations have decided to suspend membership expansion, instead focusing on developing existing member organizations and expanding partnerships.
Photo: Iryna Chaika, Organizational Development Director of the Legal Development Network. Photo by Halyna Kolesnyk/LDN

“Much of what we did last year remains in planning for this year, 2023, but with a focus on quality. For example, for several years we have been evaluating the organizational sustainability of organizations using the tool developed by the Legal Development Network. Recently, we had the opportunity to see another tool in action, which we plan to refine to the needs of the Network and use it. In addition, as the Network has begun to actively implement mentoring, we are also integrating it to strengthen member organizations: we are introducing internal mentoring. These are just a few examples. There is still a large amount of work ahead, which, I am sure, we will be able to accomplish together with member organizations,” said Iryna Chaika, organizational development director of the LDN.

Photo: Ruslan Bakhtyiev, the Garnet social technology studio CEO, candidate of political sciences. Photo by Halyna Kolesnyk/LDN

Ruslan Bakhtiyev, the Garnet social technology studio CEO, candidate of political sciences helped to rethink the achievements of the LDN for the previous year, draw conclusions and use experience during the development of a new one:

“The Legal Development Network has already experienced several difficult moments. This is a normal life process. It is important that its members always speak frankly about all this, which helps the organization move to a new level. This strategizing also gives an opportunity to speak frankly, destroy the fortress of problems, and become part of future development.” 

Photo (on the left): Executive Director of the NGO “Northern Human Rights Group” Nataliia Yesina, Sumy: “I was very impressed by the request that crystallized from our efforts to create a real network. When each member of the network feels respect, attention and has deep communication with other members of the Network”

Photo: the working moment of the General meeting. Photo by Halyna Kolesnyk/LDN

The event took place within the framework of the project “Strengthening the Legal Development Network’s Member Organizations” with the financial support of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.

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