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LDN coordinates the partnership of grassroots organizations from 12 countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

Author: Halyna Kolesnyk, Communication Manager of the Legal Development Network

In early 2020, the Legal Development Network (LDN) joined the Legal Empowerment Network (LEN), which is a part of Namati. The LDN has become LEN’s regional anchor in Eastern Europe and Central Asia and coordinates partnerships with grassroots organizations from 12 countries working in the field of access to justice. In autumn, the first consultations of the regional partnership were held, which helped to identify common targets of the movement and to develop an action plan for the next year.

Photo: Marlon Manuel, Senior Adviser of the Legal Empowerment Network

«We want the Movement to be led by members, we give them the freedom to decide on what they want to focus on. But we have some areas of activities that are common to the Network: learning, collective action, community. We are from different countries, different contexts, but there are similar challenges.   We can share leading practices, work together from the regional to the global level to influence the agenda for the different Network members. We hope that 2022 will be a better year for all of us. We are looking for how our activities can strengthen the Network at all levels – from the individual, the organization to the community. Online learning can be one of the tools for such strengthening. We have already developed programs on legal empowerment, leadership, and environmental justice. We are also developing an online course on protection and security. When we have representatives from different countries at the event, security is always important», – said Marlon Manuel, Senior Adviser of the Legal Empowerment Network.

For reference: the partnership in Eastern Europe and Central Asia includes 20 organizations from Northern Macedonia, Moldova, Albania, Georgia, Hungary, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan.
The representatives of the partnership are most concerned with the following topics: recognition and support of paralegals, environmental justice, financial sustainability of A2J and legal empowerment, organizational development, data collection and use.

What will the partnership in Eastern Europe and Central Asia work on in 2022?

Photo: executive director of the Legal Development Network Yevhen Poltenko

«Our partnership, the movement is based on the activity of our members, so it will be very important for us to know the request of organizations regarding the focus of our work. We are going to study this request more precisely, the situation in our countries, which is united by the Regional Partnership.One of the targets is also the expansion of the Network, involvement of new members and their activities in the Regional Partnership, the development of leadership potential of member organizations.

It is also necessary to share information, stories of successes and failures, to take all this into account in our work. As a practical solution, we suggest launching a periodic digest to help us share this information within our partnership”, – said the executive director of the Legal Development Network Yevhen Poltenko.

Concerning learning activities, the possibility of using the experience of the Kyiv Legal Empowerment Practical Program (Kyiv LEPP) is being considered, where teams from different countries design ideas in the field of access to justice. For the third year, teams from Kyrgyzstan are participating in this program.

Photo: Kateryna Yeroshenko, Representative of Ukraine to the Partnership, Project Manager of the Ukrainian Legal Aid Foundation

«However, we can build on previous experience, think about the problems and strategic development of both leading organizations and the region. This program (ed. – Kyiv Legal Empowerment Practical Program) allows not only to advocate for certain decisions, but also to develop participating organizations, participants, leaders who can be trained and become mentors for teams. Therefore, this program works on the border of advocacy and training», – said Kateryna Yeroshenko, Representative of Ukraine to the Partnership, Project Manager of the Ukrainian Legal Aid Foundation.

Another perspective is the creation of a paralegal school, as their assistance is very important for the countries of the region. As the implementation of this idea requires significant efforts and resources, it was decided to develop it as a strategic activity in the coming years after a thorough study of paralegals in the region. 

 «We also thought about regional thematic webinars – the topic could be related to environmental justice and institutional development of networks, as well as how to collect reliable data and train the local community», – Kateryna Eroshenko summed up.

Advocacy

Next year’s advocacy efforts will focus on researching the recognition, training, and support of paralegals in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. It is planned that the study will cover at least 50% of countries in the Regional Partnership. The next step will be to develop a strategy for the promotion of paralegal movement in the region.

«I think that the experience of those countries that have implemented this institution, and where it works successfully – Ukraine and Moldova, can be a good advocacy argument for influencing the formation of dialogue with the governments of countries where this institution has not yet been adopted.», – Zalina Abdulhakova, a representative from Kyrgyzstan, a lawyer and analyst at the Advocacy Center for Human Rights, said.

Photo: The manager for organizational development of the Legal Development Network, Iryna Chaika

She also outlined other long-term issues of concern to the partnership, including security issues, information security, and the creation of a single digital space that could be used to protect rights regardless of the political situation in any country. In addition, access to developments, researches, legislation of different countries is very important and could be used by grassroots organizations.

Regarding that the manager for organizational development of the Legal Development Network, Iryna Chaika added:

«Our priority next year will be to translate into the languages of the Partnership countries the materials already developed by NAMATI, the Legal Development Network, so that the world community is in a common discourse and uses each other’s resources to develop access to justice.

In addition, we will work to expand our partnership in the region. We will invite those organizations that have already joined the Legal Empowerment Network, but for various reasons have now suspended active cooperation».

To join the Legal Empowerment Network, you need to fill out the form on namati.org. And to join the Regional Partnership in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, you need to contact the Legal Development Network directly.

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