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The Human Rights Friendly Community Program was presented at the World Justice Forum 2022 in The Hague

Participants of the World Justice Forum 2022 from 116 countries working to create fairer communities gathered in The Hague, the Netherlands, for four days for intensive training, cooperation and agenda setting on three important and interrelated priorities – strengthening justice and the rule of law, fighting corruption, bridging the gap in justice and combating discrimination. Local initiatives, international institutions shared what problems they have and the answers they find. Ukraine was also an important part of this global forum.

The Human Rights Friendly Community Program is a special Nominee of the Forum

Back in early 2022, the Legal Development Network was selected as an Honorable Mention in the World Justice Challenge 2022 in the category “Access to Justice” held as part of the World Justice Forum. So, the Legal Development Network (LDN) had the honor to present the Human Rights Friendly Community Program at this event and shared the experience of implementation.

Photo:meeting of Ukrainian project teams with the leaders of the World Justice Project and the American Bar Association. Third from the left is Iryna Chaika, Director of Organizational Development of the Legal Development Network. Photo by Darina Marchak

Many times the speakers of the Forum mentioned the importance of data for building access to justice, trust, which can be a bridge in bridging the gap in access to justice, that global change is possible when the interests of everyone at the local level are taken into account. All of these principles form the Program, which helps to create an ecosystem of access to justice in the community for small resources.

Photo: Anastasiia Orlova, senior program assistant of the Legal Development Network. The participants of the Forum were invited to learn about the Program, in particular, from the video. Here are some previous reviews about it:
«A powerful blueprint for community-engaged, people-centered justice» (Matthew Burnett)
«Best video I’ve seen on people-centered justice, what it looks like in practice and how a group of committed local activists can make it happen» (Maaike de Langen) 

«The LDN manages to immerse itself very deeply in the local context. It seems that no one is studying such a detailed and comprehensive problem at the local level. And it’s really exciting», said Rodrigo Nunez, Justice sector advisor at The Hague Institute for Innovation of Law (HiiL).

The implementation of the Human Rights Friendly Community Program includes three stages: 

  1. Training of the local initiative groups to conduct legal needs surveys for further creation of roadmaps for building an ecosystem of access to justice in the community
  2. Support the implementation of roadmaps for building an ecosystem of access to justice in the community
  3. Creating a sustainable ecosystem of access to justice that is integrated into the community development strategy

The head of the gender program of the South African Human Rights Foundation Litlhare Rabele was interested in the approach of cooperation with local self-government. There is a crisis of confidence in the work of local authorities in South Africa and a huge number of protests against it. Therefore, the experience of cooperation and social cohesion gained by the Program participants in 17 communities of Ukraine may be useful for colleagues in South Africa.

Methodology of Human Rights Friendly Community Program can be used in other countries with similar local governance systems, where there are free elections of local governments and these governments have sufficient resources and powers to organize key areas of community life. Besides, the methodology helps people to elect responsive local governments.

Photo: all interested participants of the Forum received more detailed information about the Program and exchanged contacts to establish a partnership

Many representatives of other organizations were interested in the possibility of training and whether the Program works now. When they learned the skills to assess needs and build effective strategies to combat the challenges that came in handy during russia’s aggression against Ukraine, they were extremely impressed. After all, this is one of the examples of its stability, ability to adapt, and practical use even in crisis conditions.

Global Context

The agenda of the forum reflected the challenges the world faced. A global pandemic that has claimed the lives of at least six million people, increasing inequality, exacerbating the climate crisis, acute food and energy shortages, spreading corruption and weakening the social contract and trust. Russia’s unjustified and unprovoked war against an independent and sovereign Ukraine has brought into stark relief the fragility of the rules-based global order and the relationship between weak national governance and global instability.

To halt the departure from the rule of law, which is embodied in the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, the Forum issued a joint statement calling for greater political will and investment to implement the human-centered rule of law, which is the foundation of justice and peace. They also express “a strong determination to meet these challenges and solve problems by working together in different sectors for change”.

In general, the discussions highlighted approaches to justice in three areas:

  1. To combat corruption and promote open government. Most of the recommendations concern international coordination of legal definitions, record keeping, anti-corruption and anti-discrimination action, improving the openness and accountability of governments to reduce corruption.

«Priority should be given to strengthening the capacity and independence of justice institutions, anti-corruption agencies, and supreme audit bodies to prevent, investigate, prosecute and adjudicate corruption, while also protecting whistleblowers’ access to legal remedies and representation and strengthening social monitoring and accountability of anti-corruption activities, including through meaningful public access to information».

2. To achieve access to justice for all. A key recommendation for governments is to consider human-centeredness when designing programs, strategies, policies, financial mechanisms, etc. In addition, in collaboration with civil society, governments should systematically monitor data to understand which legal issues are most common, who is dealing with them, what impact they are experiencing, what helps to eliminate and prevent them, and what progress is being made towards the Goal. The Sustainable Development Goal 16 “Access to Justice for All” is also important to invest in legal empowerment and providing people-centric legal services.

3. To combat discrimination, ensure equal rights, and leave no one behind

Governments must adopt, implement and enforce comprehensive anti-discrimination laws. Leaders of various sectors and institutions must commit to promoting gender equality and women’s rights, strengthening women’s leadership in decision-making, making justice systems more responsive to women’s needs, and taking steps to protect women from gender-based violence, to bring perpetrators to justice and provide comprehensive services that ensure the rights of women and girls.

And governments, in consultation with civil society, must commit to combating the onslaught of civil society.

Ukrainian context

In almost every session, most participants mentioned russia’s full-scale war against Ukraine. Specific challenges were discussed in several small panels. In particular, it is extremely important today to do everything possible so that a full-scale war in Ukraine does not turn into a “frozen” state. It is necessary to ensure its constant presence in the information space, which will help speed up the adoption of important decisions for Ukraine. International communities, institutions, and experts will support civil society in Ukraine in overcoming existing challenges.

Photo: Vice-President of the European Commission on Value and Transparency Věra Jourová: «Do not forget that the reasons why Ukrainians are fighting for their country is because they freely chose to build it on the principles of democracy and the rule of law». 

Here are some more narratives that sounded in a global context.

The Covid-19 pandemic, and now the war in Ukraine, had many, not surprisingly, positive consequences. One of them is to draw attention to justice and justice issues both domestically and internationally.

The decline of the rule of law is observed not only in individual societies, countries, but around the world. An example of an attack on the international rule of law is the war in Ukraine. «I believe this year in this decade is whether we’ll have the fortitude the ability the sheer perseverance to address the rule of law in ways that matter from the smallest community to the planet as a whole», said Bradford Smith, the president of Microsoft.

Russia’s war against Ukraine has led to other phenomena, including food shortages. Ukraine provided food to more than 400 million people.

Implementing innovative solutions in response to the challenges of the war in Ukraine, the long-running Covid-19 pandemic, and the ongoing climate crisis is an opportunity to create a better future, a fairer and more peaceful world.

Photo: before the World Justice Forum, the organizers offered badges in solidarity with Ukraine. WJP CEO Bill Neukom wore this badge at the time of his closing speech: «There will be times when you are not here when you will, you might feel a little bit alone. You might think that you are all islands. But you are never alone. And picture this you may be islands but you are part of an archipelago of islands that encircles the globe.
Everything that important to get done is difficult to accomplish everything that’s important to get done is difficult to accomplish and sometimes accomplishment are improbable, not just difficult but improbable, and that requires our very best work and energy».

For the participation of the Ukrainian delegation in the World Justice Forum 2022, the Legal Development Network expresses its sincere gratitude to the World Justice Project, the International Renaissance Foundation and the Mott Foundation.

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