On September 16-17, Kyiv hosted a Forum of Legal Reforms for Civil Society, which became a platform for an all-Ukrainian dialogue on progress in improving the legal framework for the work of the third sector. The forum was organized by the team of the Ukraine Civil Society Sectoral Support Activity, which is implemented by ISAR Ednannia in a consortium with the Ukrainian Independent Center for Political Studies (UCIPR) and the Center for Democracy and Rule of Law (CEDEM).
More than 100 participants from all over Ukraine – leaders of public and charitable organizations, government representatives responsible for promoting the development of civil society, representatives of business and international organizations – took part in the event both offline and online.
Olesia Kholopik, Director of the Center for Democracy and Rule of Law, emphasized that the Forum was held on the anniversary of the presentation of the Legal Reforms Roadmap for Civil Society in Ukraine. “This is a large-scale analytical document that contains the priorities of reforming the legal environment for civil society organizations for 2021-2025. The uniqueness of this document is that its creators were representatives of civil society. In total, at least 250 experts took part in the document drafting. The process of the Roadmap creation became a bridge for communication with public authorities, and also inspired the creation of a community of like-minded authors of the Roadmap and those who intend to join the promotion of legal reforms in the public sector. This is how the Platform for Reforms for CSOs emerged this year. It is important that the development of the Roadmap formed the basis of the draft National Strategy for the Development of Civil Society, one of the most important strategic documents for the development of the third sector.”
Volodymyr Sheigus, Executive Director of ISAR Ednannia, congratulated the Forum participants: “We all know how much civil society organizations influence democratic principles, respect for human rights, and other important processes in Ukraine. If organizations are strong, provide quality services, achieve the goal for which they were created, and work in a supportive environment, including legislation, they become even more powerful, influential, and reliable partners for other sectors. We now have a good opportunity to explore the needs and obstacles to our work, and to overcome them, to develop ways to improve the organizational and legal environment – to provide better services for the people for whom we create organizations.”
Svitlana Kononchuk, Executive Director of the Ukrainian Independent Center for Political Studies, stressed that the forum is a good opportunity to discuss the progress. She reminded that activists all over the country are working to build a good legal foundation: both in regional centers and in small towns and villages. “When we look at the path we have traveled, we should not talk about two years, but about a great 30-year period, when many active and enterprising people contributed to the great result we achieved. It is now very valuable to have a platform to assess progress in ensuring this great growth of our country. It is good that our community is active, which includes both human rights defenders and people who promote inclusiveness and makes great efforts so that everyone can get involved in ensuring the rights of citizens, ” she said.
During the first day of the event throughout the panel discussions the participants discussed the progress and challenges of the implementation of the provisions of the Legal Reforms Roadmap for Civil Society in Ukraine: dangers for the third sector, National Strategy for Civil Society Development, National Strategy for Barrier-Free Space in Ukraine as challenges or opportunities for legal reforms for civil society.
Speakers were third and public sector leaders, including Oleksandr Yarema, State Secretary of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, Taras Shevchenko, Deputy Minister of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine, Volodymyr Maksymovych, Chief Consultant of the Directorate for Internal and Humanitarian Policy of the Office of the President of Ukraine, Maryna Popatenko, Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports of Ukraine, Roman Hryshchuk, People’s Deputy of Ukraine, Tetyana Lomakina, Advisor to the Presidential Commissioner for Accessibility, as well as leaders and representatives of such organizations as the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), International Renaissance Foundation, CrimeaSOS, ZMINA Human Rights Center, RPR Coalition, UHHRU, Center for Civil Liberties, Vostok-SOS, Digital Security Laboratory, UHRM Association, Center for Economic Recovery, Center for the Study of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Active Rehabilitation Group, Inclusive Friendly and others.
On the second day, the participants worked out the updates of the Roadmap, determined the priorities of advocacy for the upcoming year, and also formed proposals for the two-year plan for the implementation of the National Strategy for Civil Society Development.