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Social media in the activities of the authorities. The experience of Kyrgyzstan and Ukraine

On May 28, 2021 at the Academy of Public Administration under the President of the Kyrgyz Republic, the Department of Public Administration and Law held an international conference on “Social media in the activities of authorities”. The event brought together representatives of the media, the state, students, graduate students, experts.

The participants of the conference discussed the fundamental issue of interaction between the state, media and society, people’s trust in the state. In the brainstorming format, experts sought solutions for effective communication of public policy through social media.

In the photo: international conference “Social media in the activities of authorities

During the round table the topics of reports were:

  • «Interaction of state bodies with mass media: new trends and challenges» – «Promotion of public policy in media and social networks» project manager, PhD candidate, associate professor Elmira Arapova;
  • «Improving information security in Kyrgyzstan» – the Head of the Licensing Department of the Ministry of Culture, Information, Sports and Youth Policy of the Kyrgyz Republic Ibrahimov B. 
  • «Cooperation between regional media centers and local authorities» – media expert, head of the IDAR media center Aldakulov T.
  • «The role of press offices in the conduct of state policy  of the Ministry of Emergency Situations of the Kyrgyz Republic» – leading specialist of the media department Shaimkulova M. 
  • «Legal information and legal education of the population of the Kyrgyz Republic through the media» – producer of the socio-political and economic department of TV ElTR, winner of the competition among journalists and bloggers, storytelling-2020, 2021 «State-guaranteed legal aid in the Kyrgyz Republic» Marzakulova M.
  • «Role of state media in promoting public policy» – senior editor of the information department of the Naryn regional media center, winner of the competition among journalists and bloggers, storytelling-2020, 2021 «State-guaranteed legal aid in the Kyrgyz Republic» Sadykkazieva Zh.
  • «Positive experience of using social media in the activities of the bodies of the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine» – coordinator of the national information and education project «I have a right!», Finalist of the international competition «World Justice Challenge 2019: Access to Justice Solutions» Mytnyk Olena.
In the photo: Olena Mytnyk, coordinator of the national information and education project «I have a right!»

At the invitation of the Legal Development Network, the event was joined by an expert from Ukraine – Olena Mytnyk, who shared her experience in implementing legal education initiatives across the country and her own thoughts on how the state can implement its social function through social media:

“Having the experience in coordinating legal education initiatives and projects within Ukraine, which are inextricably linked to communication, I want to share my lessons learned, which will help to implement similar initiatives in the future:

  1. Empathy.

This means two important things for me.

The first is to know your audience, to know the people who live in the country, their needs and expectations. In the context of building access to justice, this is a crucial thing, otherwise public policy becomes a formality, a concept that lives only on paper.

Secondly, it is to give those solutions that will meet the demand, to solve legal problems. In this case, legal education becomes a solution that answers two questions at once:  (1) request for openness of public authorities – each of us wants to have a convenient, fast and most importantly understandable tool to solve your problem (for example, to write on Facebook and get an instant response than half an hour to wait for a response from the call center operator); (2) request for available legal information – the language of the law is complex and sometimes incomprehensible even to lawyers, so it is important for people to have a basic knowledge of how to act in a legal situation, or to understand who can help and show the right way in the maze of rule-making techniques.

  1. Communication in accessible language. This follows from the previous principle and means talking to your audience the way we usually communicate with our friends, acquaintances (it is very difficult to imagine a dialogue over a cup of coffee, which begins with the words “in accordance with the fourth paragraph of clause 5 of Article 12 of the Law…”)
  2. Direct contact. This is not only to provide useful information through the media, but also to provide access to consultation , professional advice and so on. This approach will help to implement the full cycle of access to justice – from knowledge to solving a legal problem.
  3. Partnership. When we talk about the interaction of the media, a person and the state, for some reason there are three different sides, each of which is separated from each other. However, in reality this is not the case. At the center of public policy should always be a person, his/her needs. In this case, the state acts rather as a partner that helps and supports. Under this paradigm, communication is not an end in itself, but a tool that helps the parties to hear each other and implement mutually beneficial solutions..
  4. Using different tools. You won’t surprise anyone with a Facebook page, so you should look for new ways to convey information to your audience – collaboration with bloggers, thought leaders, access to new platforms (TikTok, Clubhouse, etc.). But you should always remember the rule № 1 and choose a platform according to the preferences of the target audience.”

Ms. Olena stressed the importance of such events and the need to share experiences between different countries and access to justice systems. It is very gratifying that colleagues from Kyrgyzstan are actively implementing legal education initiatives, which in Ukraine have been successfully tested within the system of free legal aid and justice. Despite the fact that each state has its own national context, the exchange of practices and knowledge allows us to reach a qualitatively new level of access to justice and help states effectively implement their social mission.

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