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Legal Development Network in 2020

1. Responding to the challenges of a pandemic

Like the rest of the world, the Legal Development Network tries to adapt to new realities and do everything possible to help others in these challenging conditions. The Network has initiated a number of measures to respond to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • The Network’s member organizations have adapted to new realities and created more tools for online consulting;
  • The Network’s lawyers provided emergency legal assistance, explained new legislative and regulatory initiatives of the government to limit the spread of the pandemic;
  • The Network’s experts actively participated in the international exchange of experience, translating in Ukrainian current analytical reports (in Ukrainian):
    • Access to justice and the COVID-19 pandemic (http://bit.ly/3nFxyCr);
    • Justice for all during the COVID-19 pandemic: impact on the economy (http://bit.ly/38EWNk0).
  • In total, more than 10,000 people received legal assistance from the Network’s member organizations in 2020. This number is 80% more than the previous year’s. Moreover, half of this assistance was provided through remote tools, particularly through the only online chat in Ukraine for legal advice.

2. Development of communities in eastern Ukraine with the priority of human rights

In conjunction with the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union, the Legal Development Network teamed up with partner organizations from Donetsk and Luhansk regions to monitor human rights in 15 local communities located in the government-controlled territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine.

The aim of this project, implemented using an innovative tool – the Local Human Rights Index – is to help the local authorities and residents see the real picture in the social sphere, areas of access to justice and security: what are the achievements; what problems exist, but no one knows about them; what are the gaps and challenges, what answer to give them. You can read more in the publications (in Ukrainian):

  • Presentation of preliminary results of research in the areas of justice and security (http://bit.ly/3nvklg2);
  • Presentation of preliminary research results in decent living standards and social protection of vulnerable groups (http://bit.ly/37Fd06Z).

3. A one-stop station to ensure access to justice for the residents of Bila Tserkva

The Legal Development Network has already established the second Community Justice Center. This year, such a multifunctional platform for establishing interaction between local authorities and community residents to address their daily legal needs and ensure access to justice appeared in Bila Tserkva, Kyiv region. The Center was created based on the local Network’s member organization “Pravova Yednist” (Legal Unity).

Among the Center’s main tasks are facilitating people’s access to administrative and social services, providing legal assistance, including to vulnerable and socially vulnerable groups, resolving disputes through the procedure of alternative dispute resolution (mediation), and other measures.

You can get acquainted with the achievements of the Center for the first year of work here (in Ukrainian): http://bit.ly/2LDh7Jt

4. By researching the legal needs of communities, we strengthen the prospects for their development

For the second year in a row, the Legal Development Network within the Ukrainian Access to Justice School of Practice has coordinated the program “Legally Empowered Community”. The program aims to explore the justice needs of Ukrainian communities’ residents – and, based on the results of these studies to offer local authorities possible solutions to the identified problems. The program participants, who joined its implementation in 2019, have already completed all stages of their research, initiated the development of local programs on access to justice, and actively advocated for adopting these programs by the local authorities. The first to successfully achieve this in 2020 was a team from the Shyroke community, Zaporizhia region (in Ukrainian): http://bit.ly/2LaXp7D

In 2020, 4 communities from Kyiv, Cherkasy, and Mykolayiv oblasts joined the program, which conducted their research and are preparing for the next stage in 2021.

5. Implementation of the concept of people-centered justice in Ukraine

In 2020, the Legal Development Network became one of the initiators of a series of nationwide discussions to introduce a people-centered approach to justice in Ukraine. This approach is based on the people’s needs and aims to address the issues of access to justice that are most important to them. People-centered justice is designed to ensure equal access to justice for all, regardless of income, gender, age, race or ethnicity, or other characteristics. The need for it is even more urgent in today’s challenging environment caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

You can read more here: http://bit.ly/35xMjB5

6. Participation in the creation of the COVID-19 Grassroots Justice Fund

It is nice when the expertise and experience of the representatives of the Legal Development Network are in demand in the implementation of various initiatives. World leaders and civil society groups announced the COVID-19 Grassroots Justice Fund’s establishment on July 18, 2020. The LDN’s Executive Director Yevgen Poltenko was invited to join the selection committee of the Fund for Support of Grassroots Human Rights Initiatives in Counteracting COVID-19. And at the end of the year, the first grassroots initiatives from around the world received the Funds’ support: https://www.covidjusticefund.org/grantees

7. Second Kyiv Legal Empowerment Practical Program (Kyiv LEPP)

The Legal Development Network actively participated in the organization and holding of this year’s KyivLEPP program. This program is an incubator of innovative ideas in access to justice in Ukraine and the world.

In 2020, 5 teams of innovators from Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Northern Macedonia, Poland, and Ukraine joined the program. They offered ideas on how to improve the system of access to justice in their countries. And during online meetings, according to the methodology of design thinking, Kyiv LEPP experts helped develop these ideas into prototype solutions.

The results of the program and the projects of the participants can be found here:  https://ua2j.school/en/news/

8. Perspective 2025

One of the Network’s most significant achievements in 2020 was developing a strategic plan for the next five years of the Network (in Ukrainian: http://bit.ly/3mmfrkd). The participants of the strategy conducted an in-depth analysis of the macro-environment and assessment of the internal situation based on the results of the organizational development audit and identified the focus of planning:

  • formed an understanding of products and services, their compliance with the needs of target audiences;
  • detailed a plan for the formation and expansion of the range of target audiences;
  • and most importantly, identify actions to be taken to support and develop the Network’s member organizations.

The activities of the Legal Development Network were full of events, large-scale projects, and productive meetings. The crisis has stimulated thinking fast, testing, and implementing new technologies and tools. We do not plan to rest on our laurels and see many challenges ahead that we are ready to face! Thanks to our partners and participants of our projects – without you, it would be impossible!

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