In 2014 and 2015 the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs initiated a series of meetings with Dutch project organisations to explore the opportunities and the feasibility of providing targeted assistance to Ukraine in its ambition to strengthen the rule of law. As a result of these meetings the Ministry invited the participating organisations to design and submit specific justice sector support projects that would contribute to strengthening the rule of law, in line with the Ukrainian justice sector reform agenda and complementary to existing and planned initiatives by other (international) donors.
In response to this invitation, CILC and its Ukrainian partner organisation, the Centre for Judicial Studies, developed a one year project proposal in a target region of Ukraine – the Lviv region. This proposed project addressed the functioning of courts and prosecution offices and worked with all legal professionals in these institutions.
The objective of the project that CILC and CJS developed was to strengthen the rule of law in Ukraine. The project purpose was to support the implementation of sustainable reform of the justice sector in Ukraine and to increase the effectiveness, efficiency and integrity of the judiciary in the Lviv region in Western Ukraine.
In light of this objective the CILC/CJS initiative aimed at improving the administration of justice in a broad sense by:
- Strengthening the operational capacities of several local public prosecution offices and the regional public prosecution office in the Lviv region, and improving their output
- Strengthening the operational capacities of several district courts and the Court of Appeal in the Lviv region, and improving their output
- Building capacity of legal professionals in the Lviv region
In order to work towards these aims the Phase I project outlined three main result areas:
- A review of the state of play in the courts in the Lviv region, complemented by recommendations on introducing changes to the way of working, including a mapping of directions for specific follow-up support
- A review of the state of play in the public prosecution offices in the Lviv region, complemented by recommendations on introducing changes to the way of working, including a mapping of directions for specific follow-up support
- A series of topical workshops for a selected group of Ukrainian judges of the Lviv region
Between October 2016 and October 2017, CILC and CJS designed, organised and implemented a series of activities relating to these three result areas. A tabular overview of the activities undertaken is provided below.
- Organisational review of courts in the Lviv region + drafting and disseminating the courts’ review report
- Roundtable on discussing the courts’ review report, identifying pilot projects for Phase II
- Organisational review of public prosecution service in the Lviv region + drafting and disseminating the public prosecution service review report
- Roundtable on discussing the public prosecution service review report, identifying pilot projects for Phase II
- Topical workshop on the independence of the judiciary and the core values of justice 1
- Topical workshop on the independence of the judiciary and the core values of justice 2
- Topical workshop on the independence of the judiciary and the core values of justice 3
- Meeting for Dutch stakeholders on the project results and perspectives for Phase II work
From the onset of the project design, CILC and CJS adopted an approach that included the following key elements:
- Practical in set-up, small in scale and repetitive in nature
- Personal involvement: linking peers to peers
- Facilitating direct support in daily work of legal practitioners
- Local / regional focus
- Keeping it basic: discussing the implications of the core values of justice
Between October 2016 and October 2017 many activities have been organised and considerable progress has been made in relation to the project’s objective and its aims. After this one year Phase I project, a clear picture is generated of the state of play in the courts and prosecution service offices in the Lviv region, and directions for meaningful future interventions have been identified and preliminarily discussed. In addition, some 50 judges from the Lviv region have engaged in an open discussion on the core values of justice and the direct implications of these values for their daily work in courts.
The review reports can be found here:
From the side of the Ukrainian judiciary there is willingness and a clear commitment to continue the bilateral relation with the Dutch justice sector on the identified areas of work in a Phase II project. Preliminary strategies for future activities have been drafted and a selection of topics has been made. CILC and its partners stand ready to finalise and submit this Phase II project proposal for continuing and broadening the cooperation with this region in Ukraine.
Ingrid de Haer-Douma
Junior Project Manager
Richard van den Bos
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