Projects that made 2023 a good year: version of the Foundation’s Programs

Сашко Кульчицький

For us, as for everyone in Ukraine, 2023 began with blackouts and shelling. In these conditions, we continued our work to preserve the Open Society for a free Ukraine, develop human capital and the resilience of civil society, move Ukraine towards the EU, protect human rights, and support initiatives that can contribute to this. This year, our Foundation has supported over 400 projects worth more than UAH 650 million.

We asked the Foundation’s thematic programs to choose the projects of the past year that they found the most interesting, important, and significant. The ones that made us love this difficult year of 2023. And while the final annual report is still being finalized, we share with you a shortened version of it

Program “Europe and the World”

2023 was a busy year for Ukraine’s integration into the EU, and the program expanded its activities to maintain and increase support for Ukraine around the world and increase pressure on russia.

Promoting Ukraine’s accession to the EU

In December 2023, the European Council made a historic decision to open negotiations on Ukraine’s accession to the European Union. The Foundation, together with its partners – leading Ukrainian think tanks – conducted comprehensive work with EU institutions and key capitals, and helped the Ukrainian government to implement the changes in legislation recommended by the EU.

International advocacy in EU countries

Advocacy visits by Ukrainian experts helped to convey to key EU countries that Ukraine is on track with its European integration trajectory, as many decisions depend not only on Brussels but also on the decisions of the member states. On the eve of the European Commission’s report, the Ukrainian Center for European Policy conducted advocacy visits to Paris, Berlin, Brussels and Madrid. During these visits, the experts met with local experts and diplomats to make a strong case for Ukraine’s progress on its way to the European Union.

The Ukrainian Prism team also comprehensively promoted the idea of Ukraine’s accession to the EU abroad. With the support of the Foundation, experts worked with the Scandinavian countries, Spain and Portugal. The Foundation and the Open Society Foundations also contributed to the opening of the Ukrainian Prism office in Brussels to provide easier and faster access to stakeholders.

In 2023, the New Europe Center provided systematic advocacy work with allied countries. The organization focused on working in Germany, France, the Netherlands, Italy, and the United States on Ukraine’s accession to the EU, as well as political, financial, and military assistance from allies to defeat Russia. In addition to visits to meet with politicians and political advisors, the organization’s experts conducted surveys and published articles in the media of the allied countries.

Also, the New Europe Center team, together with the Foundation and with the financial support of the EU, was able to gather about 100 participants in Kyiv during the Second EU Accession Exchange Forum, a unique platform that brought together politicians, experts, opinion leaders and officials from both candidate and EU member states. On the eve of the publication of the European Commission’s annual report on enlargement, the forum became a platform for “synchronizing the clocks” of European integration with those who, like Ukraine, are now moving from candidate status to full-fledged EU membership.

Engaging in homework for EU membership

It is also worth noting the contribution of the Foundation and our partners to the work of the government and parliament, which worked throughout 2023 to bring Ukrainian legislation in line with EU standards.

For example, the Euro-Atlantic Course NGO provided expert support to the Verkhovna Rada Committee on EU Integration to ensure that draft laws were evaluated in a timely and efficient manner to ensure that they complied with our commitments as a candidate country and the EU Association Agreement. In 2023, the organization’s team helped the Committee analyze 120 draft laws and provide opinions on their compliance with Ukraine’s European integration commitments and EU law.

In order to prioritize their work, all ministries conducted “self-screening” in 2023, which is a check of national legislation for compliance with current EU law. The Foundation’s grantee organizations also contributed to the development of monitoring tools and resources to increase capacity to work with EU legislation. For example, the Resource and Analysis Center “Society and Environment” prepared a Mapping of Ukraine’s main tasks in the field of environment and climate change, which includes about 80 major EU directives and regulations, as well as hundreds of additional regulations, various decisions, recommendations, policies, and court practice. The experts also developed the Handbook of EU Acts on Environment and Climate Change and the web portal Compass – Your Green Guide to EU Membership. These resources were positively evaluated by representatives of the government and the Environmental Policy Committee of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine as helpful in their work.

Strengthening cooperation with France

France is one of the most influential and economically powerful countries in the EU and plays an important role in the allied coalition supporting Ukraine in its war with Russia. The Russian lobby,
historically powerful and influential in this country, has not disappeared and continues to misinform the political class and public opinion through numerous materials in high-quality French.

That is why in 2023, in addition to advocacy work, we intensified our work with France through media cooperation and cultural diplomacy tools.

In particular, Ukraine Crisis Media Center has established the process of producing and distributing unique French-language content about Ukraine – audio podcasts and YouTube videos, as well as strengthened the presence of French-language products on Facebook and Twitter among French and French-speaking experts, journalists, and politicians. And through the publication of exclusive short videos from the regions, including the frontline areas, it was able to provide a wider French-speaking audience (over 200,000 people) with a unique opportunity to see and feel the humanitarian and social aspect of the Russian-Ukrainian war.

Through our cooperation with the Meritus Foundation, we supported the launch of the French-language version of the Ukrainian Weekly website, Through the preparation and translation of more than 300 materials in 2023 alone and media appearances, the French audience and the readership of French-speaking countries in the Global South learned more about events in Ukraine, its history, politics, and economy.

In November 2023, the Ukrainian Institute, a cultural diplomacy foundation under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, opened its representative office in France. The establishment of this representative office was supported by the Open Society Foundation, of which the International Renaissance Foundation is a part. The Foundation also provided for the arrival of the Institute’s team to Paris. The opening of the representative office took place with the participation of high-level speakers from France, as well as with the participation of the Chairman of the Board of the Open Society Foundations, Alexander Soros, and First Lady Olena Zelenska. The representative office will make Ukrainian culture recognizable in France, create a demand for knowledge about it and demand for Ukrainian cultural products by presenting Ukrainian culture as a significant and integral part of European culture.

Strengthening mutual understanding and partnerships with neighboring EU member states

While 2022 showed a huge level of sympathy and practical support for Ukraine not only from national governments but also from ordinary citizens, businesses, and regional authorities in EU member states, 2023 was a year of challenges and showed that Ukrainians should work hard to build stable partnerships with EU member states at various levels. First of all, this applies to relations with neighboring countries, with a number of which political friction has recently emerged, and some of them have called for a reduction in support for Ukraine.

Therefore, the Foundation, in cooperation with the Ukrainian Prism think tank, continued the tradition of holding the annual Ukrainian Central European Forum (UCEF 2023), which brought together about 90 politicians, researchers, academics, media and civil society representatives from 15 countries to create a common vision of the future of Central Europe. As the forum was held on the eve of the European Commission’s decision to recommend the start of negotiations on the accession of the candidate countries to the EU, the participants discussed the prospects of Ukraine and Moldova’s accession to the European Union and the trajectory of the EU enlargement process, as well as the need to build a sustainable military-industrial, diplomatic and economic partnership between the countries of Central Europe.

We have also strengthened cooperation within the framework of the Ukraine-Poland Forum, which has been traditionally organized by the International Renaissance Foundation and the Stefan Batory Foundation (Poland) for many years. The participants of the two international meetings of the Forum were civic activists, analysts, scholars, and representatives of business and the economic sector of Ukraine and Poland, as well as the Ukrainian government. The range of topics for discussion demonstrated the rich content of Ukrainian-Polish cooperation: from volunteer movements to support the Ukrainian army and migration issues to challenges in relations between Kyiv and Warsaw to ensure resilience in the face of war and Ukraine’s path to the EU from blocking for political reasons. Also in September, the Forum participants responded with a joint statement on the peculiarities of the moment in Ukrainian-Polish relations, calling for de-escalation of political rhetoric on both sides caused by economic disputes.

At the same time, the team of the think tank “Europe without Barriers” constantly monitored the work of the EU-Ukraine Solidarity Roads and Open Border Initiatives, which appeared after the outbreak of the great war and contain urgent measures to stabilize the movement of people and goods across the border and strengthen cooperation between Ukraine and the EU.

The experts established stable professional relationships with most of the Initiatives’ stakeholders, and in 2023 held 23 in-depth consultations and 4 expert discussions with representatives of the Ukrainian side, as well as a number of independent, including international, experts. This made it possible to prepare analytical and outreach materials, as well as specific proposals for the government and other stakeholders to improve the processes of effective development of the western border and emergency response mechanisms on the borders of Ukraine and the EU.

Expanding support for Ukraine in the global world.

In 2023, the Foundation expanded the geography of its activities to convey the Ukrainian point of view and explain Russia’s crimes to the world. The Foundation supported a number of organizations that developed new partnerships in Asia, Africa, and Latin America by preparing analytical and informational materials aimed at the audience of these countries, and by holding joint expert and cultural events.

In particular, two visits of delegations of journalists from the Global South were organized with the support of the Foundation.

Given the relevance of promoting Ukrainian arguments on the African continent, in particular on the Peace Formula, food security and other important areas of Ukrainian foreign policy, the NGO New Ukrainian Narratives in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine organized a visit of 15 journalists from 10 African countries (Angola, Botswana, Guinea, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa, Senegal, Tunisia, Zambia).

And the Center for Transatlantic Dialogue organized the visit of journalists from Latin America (Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia) and Spain to reduce the spread of Russian pro-war imperial propaganda in the region’s information space.

Both delegations had the opportunity to visit Kharkiv or Odesa, Irpin, Bucha, and Borodyanka. The journalists talked to the population of frontline and affected communities, met with Ukrainian journalists, volunteers, activists, and human rights defenders, and had meetings with government officials, MPs, and President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Increased sanctions pressure on russia.

For almost 10 years, the Foundation has been advocating for the preservation and expansion of sanctions for Russia’s armed aggression and annexation of Crimea. After the full-scale invasion, sanctions became an even more important element of influence on the aggressor.

Last year, with the support of the International Renaissance Foundation, the BlackSeaNews Monitoring Group and the Institute for Black Sea Strategic Studies conducted a comprehensive analysis of the content and scope of sanctions against legal entities in 2022-2023. The analysis is based on the database of legal entities maintained by the Monitoring Group on a daily basis. The database currently includes more than 8,300 legal entities that have been sanctioned by Ukraine, the United States, the EU, the United Kingdom and Canada in connection with Russian aggression against Ukraine. The database continues to be the only open source of information on sanctions that contains verified data on legal entities.

The database became a reference for a professional audience of experts and specialists dealing with sanctions around the world. Based on the monitoring, the organization’s experts prepared proposals for expanding and synchronizing sanctions against companies between countries, which were then submitted to Ukrainian government authorities and embassies of partner countries.

The DiXi Group analytical center helped Ukrainian government officials improve Ukraine’s energy security and monitored all elements of the energy sector in Russia. The team has conducted a number of studies on the impact of electricity imports on Ukraine’s energy security, how much the aggressor earns, what threats the world faces from cooperation with the Russian corporation Rosatom, etc.

Based on their research, DiXi Group prepared advocacy proposals that were presented during the annual international conference Ukrainian Energy Security Dialogue 2023 and during working trips to the United States and Brussels.

Contribution to shaping the vision of Ukraine’s recovery

Although there are still battles on our land, we need to think together now about what kind of country we are building. After all, recovery is taking place not only in the de-occupied and frontline communities that are trying to ensure life and survival, but also in the communities that have received a significant number of people from the affected cities and villages. And also in the regions that have become logistics hubs and have begun to take care of the integrity of our economic and energy systems.

It is important to understand how our partners – civil society organizations working in this area at the national, regional and local levels – see Ukraine’s recovery. Therefore, in 2023, a qualitative study “Ukraine’s Recovery: Priorities, Risks, Inclusion” was conducted by the independent research center “SociOinform” at the request of the Foundation and with the support of the EU. The study helped to structure how the public sector sees recovery; assess the effectiveness of recovery processes in Ukraine during the war, identify and present successful examples in communities, and outline a vision of the optimal architecture of recovery processes.

The Foundation then brought together leading experts and practitioners in the field of recovery from different regions and areas of activity to share the results of the study, while discussing the results of the Ukraine Recovery Conference 2023 in London, which took place on the eve of the event. This discussion platform provided a frank debate on what challenges lie ahead for Ukraine, comparing and analyzing the perspectives of both international audiences and local communities.

Civic Resilience Program

Support for veterans’ spaces.

Support for veterans’ spaces.Veterans’ spaces provide legal, psychological, social, and rehabilitation support, refer veterans to competent authorities and assist them in resolving their issues, support families of those who are expecting and those who have lost loved ones, and implement sports/art/entertainment activities in the spaces. But above all, the veterans’ space is a safe place to meet in a circle, agree on joint actions, and effectively communicate with local authorities.

Even before the full-scale invasion, veterans’ spaces united with the assistance of the International Renaissance Foundation into a Coalition that now unites 24 spaces, most of which started as volunteer centers during the active phase of the ATO/JFO and now operate as volunteer and veteran hubs.

In 2023, our foundation supported a number of veterans’ spaces that implemented specialized projects in their communities. For example:

NGO “Psychological Service of Euromaidan”a veterans’ space in Rivne: legal, social and psychological assistance to detained and convicted veterans and interaction with communities, probation centers, police, penitentiary service to prepare society in general and the state in particular for the problems related to crime and offenses of veterans, and their prevention. As part of the project, three groups of graduates of the Rivne Patrol Police Academy were trained on the specifics of working with veterans, and the possibility of developing handouts and creating a certified 10-hour course is being considered. Recommendations on preventing offenses and crime among veterans were prepared and distributed.

Vinnytsia Analytical and Educational Center “Veteran’s Space”: the organization took over the assistance and support of the wounded, identified and systematized the most common problems at the level of hospitals, and developed algorithms for solving these problems. The corresponding manual was published and actively distributed both in the region and beyond. As part of the project, the organization analyzed the regional program and submitted proposals for amendments to the regional comprehensive program to support veterans and their families. As a result, UAH 400,000 was additionally allocated for psychological support for the families of the fallen, the veterans’ space joined the advisory body at the city council and is a co-author and co-implementer of the relevant local program. The organization has shared this experience at the district level and is currently providing advice on opening new veterans’ spaces.

Charitable Foundation “YARMIZ Center for Adaptation and Rehabilitation” is a veterans’ space in Kyiv: the organization published a “Guide to Mental Health in War,” which combined information and contacts about available quality psychological assistance providers for veterans and their families in one collection, with a reach of 1.5 million users. Additionally, Yarmiz formed a team of 19 active and professional psychologists who are knowledgeable in military/veteran issues, developed and tested a training program for military psychologists and students of the Military Institute of Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv. The project also successfully cooperated with Kyiv local authorities, with more than 70 officials receiving thematic training on how to interact with veterans.

NGO “Space of Opportunities”. With our support, the organization developed and strengthened the Coalition of Veterans’ Spaces, trained leaders of veterans’ organizations at the School of Non-Governmental Sector Management, opened new spaces and engaged new partners in providing quality services to veterans. The veterans’ space “Protection 4.5.0.” was opened in Khmelnytskyi, the veterans’ space “Heartland” was launched in Chernihiv, and the charitable foundation “After Service” (Kyiv) joined the Coalition. Currently, consultations on opening new spaces have begun in Chernihiv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Dnipro, Chernivtsi, and Lviv regions.

The NGO “Space of Opportunities” supported communication and coordination between more than 20 Coalition spaces on the problems that arose in communities due to the war, ways to solve them, opportunities, exchange of good practices, the organization developed joint plans for solving problems and implemented joint projects to ensure community resilience, social cohesion, support for veterans and their families.

The NGO “Space of Opportunities” initiated and conducted the second all-Ukrainian dialogue “Veteran Communities” in Khmelnytskyi, which brought together more than 500 participants online and offline. The dialogue was aimed at bringing together people who have an impact on shaping the agenda for veterans and their families in communities, society and the country, to develop new solutions in the field of rehabilitation and reintegration and to disseminate existing successful practices in different communities. The dialogue contributed to the actualization of veterans’ issues and the formation of a unity of vision, goals and intentions to address veterans’ issues among representatives of government and local self-government, business, veteran and volunteer communities, and the non-governmental sector.

Space of Opportunities also amplified the voice of the veteran community and helped to effectively communicate with the authorities. The organization participated in the work of the coordination headquarters of state and local authorities, and provided support for closed thematic meetings on the development of veteran policies and relevant draft laws.

NGO “Women’s Veterans Movement”: the project is aimed at institutional support for the organization as a veterans’ space, a volunteer center, and a social enterprise. The organization used the grant to build its team and fundraising strategy (they managed to raise more than UAH 10 million to help the army), to support the work of its workshop that makes military clothing, especially for women serving in the Armed Forces, to organize charity events and generally develop a culture of charity, reaching very different audiences through creative approaches.

Social cohesion and community levels

The Ukrainian Community of Dialogue Practitioners (NGO “Community of Specialists”) held an online conference “Conflict Management in War as a Factor of Strengthening Community Cohesion” Conceptual and Practical, Instrumental Aspects”. The aim of the conference was to create a platform where specialists working with conflicts in wartime could share their experience gained in Ukraine, to correlate their understanding of the processes currently taking place in society: both those that divide and those that unite.

The conference program was based on the experience of several of the most systematic conflict management programs, which included both experienced conflict and dialogue specialists and those who are just starting their professional careers. For the participants, it was an opportunity to gain valuable information about specific social, psychological, identity and other aspects of conflicts, the issue of IDPs’ involvement in community life and other challenges faced by communities, as well as to share effective tools and features of working with them. At the same time, this event included work in separate sessions involving a wide range of stakeholders, including representatives of state and local authorities, journalists and communications specialists, religious leaders and organizations, and other professional actors working on social cohesion in communities in various aspects.

5 days of online work aimed at different target groups with different formats – expert panels, a master class and facilitated discussions, 18 informative sessions with 50 unique speakers. A significant achievement was maintaining the focus of the conference on professional development of professionals: conceptual panels were devoted to discussing and analyzing the methodology of conflict management, development of conflict potential, its content dynamics, combining psychological work with conflict management, etc. At the toolboxes, professionals working in the field had the opportunity to discuss the tools and technologies they use in their work. Participants emphasized that it is important to continue to create and strengthen intersectoral communication circles that have the potential for further more practical development.

Since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, the Rockada Charitable Foundation has been providing comprehensive support to those who were forced to leave their homes, providing them with psychological, legal, social and humanitarian assistance. Thanks to the support of the International Renaissance Foundation, the foundation’s work in ten regions of Ukraine has been strengthened.

One of the main areas of work of the team within the project is the creation, support, development and capacity building of IDP Councils at the community level. To do this, the organization has launched a series of trainings and strategic sessions. For many communities, this was the first step towards mastering new tools for the development of local organizations, uniting different community members around a common idea, and establishing cooperation with local government representatives. In particular, some communities submitted projects for consideration, and some communities have already received their first grant.

Rokada’s lawyers advised IDPs on how to restore lost documents, familiarized beneficiaries with their rights to education during martial law, to receive compensation for destroyed property, to receive pensions, and to receive salaries. Since July 2023, more than 1,200 internally displaced Ukrainians have received professional legal assistance.

In addition, lawyers were involved in community activation, in particular, in the creation of NGOs with IDP councils, and conducted a number of trainings for internally displaced persons and persons affected by Russian aggression. An important point was that the project helped to launch the development of the foundation’s advocacy area (today, lawyers are working on issues of obtaining the status of a child of war / on the transition of the ICS to the ICC / compensation for employers and remuneration for the employment of IDPs, etc.)

Protecting military rights

Charitable Organization “Charitable Foundation “Volunteer Association “VESTA””, project #bud’_v_kursi. The organization aimed to inform veterans and their families about the existing mechanisms for exercising their rights and guarantees, explain the procedures in clear terms, and provide information support to the above categories of the population during military service, adaptation after loss, or return to civilian life.

The chosen tool for the information campaign was short animated videos for social media, developed after the focus groups. A total of 14 videos were created on the following topics: “Financial support,” “Free prosthetics,” “How to get a combat service,” “Rehabilitation abroad,” “Burial of a serviceman,” “One-time payment to the family of the deceased,” “Registration of benefits for family members of the deceased.” “Provision of property for servicemen for the winter”, “Passing the military medical examination”, “Passing the medical examination board”, “Breathing techniques for stabilization”, “Leave abroad for servicemen”, “Missing person – what should the family do”, “Payments for families of prisoners of war”.

The videos gained considerable popularity through the use of tik-tok (more than 1 million views) and Instagram (more than 30,000 views) and attracted the attention of media and opinion leaders on veteran issues. As part of the project, the organization set up a legal aid and psychological support referral service in response to a wave of requests from the target audience.

NGO “PRYNCYP, a project aimed at protecting the rights of servicemen: developing a solution to improve the system of protection of active military personnel, standards of law enforcement agencies, pre-trial investigation bodies, and standards of judicial proceedings. As part of the project, the organization analyzed case law and developed a map of the main “pain points” of servicemen: difficulties in passing the military qualification commission, problems with leaves and transfers, issues related to demobilization, and payments of financial support.

The experience of building a military justice system and mechanisms for protecting the rights of military personnel in 5 countries, including NATO members (the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Canada, the Republic of Lithuania, Turkey and Israel) were also analyzed.

The results of the analysis of the military justice system in these countries were used for comparison with the system in Ukraine. The organization engaged more than 10 authorities in dialogue and work and developed recommendations for short-term and long-term changes in the context of building an effective military justice system in Ukraine and protecting the rights of military personnel in the security and defense forces. The project contributed to the fact that civil society and the government have data on best practices that can be implemented in Ukraine.

All-Ukrainian Human Rights OrganizationLegal Hundred. The project was primarily aimed at institutional support for the organization, but as a result, it increased the efficiency of the work and the quantity and quality of services provided by the Legal Hundred . During the project implementation period, 23,590 oral and written consultations were provided by the organization’s lawyers to veterans and active military personnel. The coverage of the project’s information materials on the protection of the rights of servicemen and women, analysis of draft laws and expert recommendations amounted to more than 1 million views.

Rehabilitation of veterans and military personnel

“Lisova Polyana is a state-owned institution run by the Ministry of Health, which is the first medical center in Ukraine to specialize in restoring the mental health of veterans, treating psychological trauma, the effects of mild traumatic brain injury, and helping survivors of captivity and torture.

With the support of the International Renaissance Foundation, Lisova Polyana implemented a pilot project to develop an institute of clinical case managers, a new type of hospital staff that accompanies veterans to address social and legal issues. As part of the project, a model for the work of clinical case managers was created, a package of working documentation and reporting, a job description, and a code of ethics were developed.

The work of clinical case managers was tested in Lisova Polyana, where 600 veterans who were undergoing treatment received such services (for example, assistance in obtaining a certificate of injury, support when traveling to other medical facilities, communication with government authorities, overcoming bureaucratic procedures).

The Wings of Victory Charitable Foundation received a grant from the Foundation to support a team that transports severely injured, less mobile veterans, provides them with patronage support, legal, medical and psychological counseling for wounded soldiers, and teaches care or self-care for seriously ill patients. In addition, the organization helps with the organization of prosthetics. In just 6 months, 525 patients have been treated and 329 transported by special vehicles, 200 patients have received medical support, and three have received the necessary prostheses. It is also worth noting that when the Russians blew up the Kakhovka dam, the project team quickly traveled to the Kherson region to provide medical care and transportation services to the victims.

Reintegration of veterans

The NGO Association of Entrepreneurs – ATO Veterans implemented the project Reintegration of Veterans through Entrepreneurship. The results and information developed within the project formed the basis of the draft law “On Veteran Entrepreneurship” (draft law No. 10258 of 13.11.2023), and the Association became one of the main authors and initiators of such a draft law. At the same time, together with the Ministry of Social Policy, the Ministry of Economy, and the National Bank, a draft program of preferential financing of veteran entrepreneurship by the banking sector was developed. The concept of a regional policy to support veteran entrepreneurship and a model program for financing the opening of a veteran business for communities were developed. The Association promoted a UAH 300 million program for grants for veteran entrepreneurs at the level of Kyiv city authorities. The Association provided more than 200 consultations on starting a business (in person and through a hotline) and conducted a training program for 45 future veteran entrepreneurs.

This work promotes the social and economic reintegration of veterans through entrepreneurship. Initiatives such as the development of a draft law on veteran entrepreneurship, preferential financing programs and regional support policies create the conditions for veterans to be able to fulfill their potential and contribute to the country’s economy.

Social Capital Program

Social cohesion and resilience

In 2023, we developed the capacity of civil society organizations, activists and volunteers to maintain the resilience and cohesion of Ukrainian society to ensure victory in the war unleashed by russia.

The charitable organization Teple Misto Charitable Foundation has launched the Hub of Civil Society Organizations for Strengthening Capacity in Post-War Recovery and the Mentoring Program for Strengthening the Capacity of Civil Society Initiatives in Times of War.

The first project, the Hub of Civil Society Organizations for Strengthening Capacity in Post-War Reconstruction, was created as a platform for uniting the efforts of the public sector around important post-war tasks. The second project, the Mentoring Program for Strengthening the Capacity of Civil Society Initiatives in Times of War, focuses on supporting and developing civil society initiatives that have faced special challenges in times of war.

The projects facilitate the exchange of knowledge, experience and best practices between organizations working in various fields, from infrastructure restoration to psychological support for war victims. Through the organization of trainings, workshops, and lectures, the hub’s participants gain new knowledge and skills necessary for effective work in the post-war period.

Projects include the creation of an online course that helps participants gain important knowledge and understanding in project management, resource mobilization, and effective communication. 331 participants have already successfully completed the course and received certificates confirming their competencies.

In addition to educational activities, the foundation also organized a Forum with over 200 participants from different regions of Ukraine, where critical topics such as rehabilitation, mental health, the importance of human capital, and strategies for bringing talented Ukrainians back to the country were discussed.

The project “On the Cloud: Secure Resource and Recovery Environment for Civil Society,” initiated by the Institute of Leadership and Management of the Ukrainian Catholic University, is a response to the current needs of the civil society sector in the face of growing challenges and the need to quickly adapt to changing circumstances. As part of the project, 10 organizations were selected to receive comprehensive support aimed at strengthening their internal resources, mental health, motivation, and capacity for effective action.

The project creates a unique environment for knowledge and experience exchange, where the academic world, civic initiatives, and business expertise merge to support civil society leaders and activists. The main idea is to ensure the sustainability and effectiveness of the public sector through systematic mentoring, psychological support, and professional development opportunities.

Development of cultural communities

In order to maintain the resilience of democracy in Ukraine in times of war, it is important to support resilient communities that drive positive social change in the country. That’s why in 2023 we supported a number of projects that strengthen industry and regional communities.

The Congress of Culture, Via Carpatia, and Translatorium are three major events aimed at supporting and strengthening the cultural community in Ukraine. These events not only bring the community together, but also serve as a factor in generalizing the experiences of cultural actors, strengthening resilience, and building a common vision of the current state of affairs regarding culture in Ukraine.

The third Ukraine Unmuted Cultural Congress took place in Lviv on September 7-9, focusing on rethinking the new realities and challenges for society and the cultural sector after February 24, 2022. The congress aimed to articulate the experience and current state of affairs in the context of the ongoing war. Each day of the congress was dedicated to a different topic, facilitating the discussion of important issues.

From October 13 to 15, Ivano-Frankivsk hosted the Via Carpatia International Art and Intellectual Forum under the slogan “The Future of Tradition: Ukrainian in a Global World”. The forum brought together many well-known personalities to discuss important topics such as the fate of traditions in a globalized world, Ukraine’s positioning on the international stage, emigration, solidarity, and national self-discovery through war. The event supported a community of intellectuals, public figures and artists aimed at restoring and developing Ukrainian culture.

On October 27-28, Khmelnytsky hosted the VI Translatorium literary and translation festival dedicated to literary translation. This year’s theme was “Through Silence to Conversation,” highlighting how extreme circumstances affect human behavior and communication. The organizers of the festival sought to explore new forms of expressing the experience of war, including not only verbal, but also visual and choreographic means. The festival program included seminars, workshops, exhibitions, discussions, book presentations, performances, and talks.

The Protasiv Yar Festival was organized in honor of Roman Ratushnyi, a civic activist and soldier who died in 2022. From May to summer, discussions, lectures, literary readings, film screenings, and concerts were held every two weeks on Saturdays, attracting more than 2,000 participants and 100 speakers, including activists, politicians, volunteers, artists, and others. The festival has become a significant event in Kyiv, emphasizing the heritage of the Ratushnyi and its impact on civic and cultural life.

Fifth Kharkiv is a joint project of the Kharkiv Literary Museum and Serhiy Zhadan. It aims to bring together intellectuals, scholars, writers, musicians, artists, and the community of Kharkiv to reflect on the history and future of the city, which is shelled by Russian missiles almost every day. The project began in 2022 with a three-day offline festival, and in 2023, in addition to the usual exhibitions, public lectures, and music concerts, public discussions with writers and intellectuals from the Czech Republic, Poland, Lithuania, Germany, France, and Serbia and their Ukrainian colleagues were organized in Kharkiv. More than 12 events were held as part of the project, with 10 foreign and 75 Ukrainian cultural figures as public speakers. The total audience of the events, despite the constant security threats in Kharkiv, was about 1000 participants.

Restoring social capital in frontline communities

In 2023, the Foundation systematically supported the efforts of civic activists, cultural and media initiatives working in the frontline and de-occupied territories.

PEN Ukraine’s Literary Volunteer Mission is a series of more than 15 trips to cultural institutions and libraries and literary meetings. The trips were attended by well-known authors who met with communities, held literary readings, discussed the importance of culture and supported local libraries by donating books. The trips were part of the effort to restore cultural life in the war-affected regions and emphasized the power of literature to support and rebuild communities.

Radio Nakypilo, which broadcasts in Kharkiv and is developing a broadcasting network in the de-occupied territories of the Kharkiv region, where other methods of access to objective information are limited. “Nakypilo” has created four radio programs: investigative journalism, a series of interviews called “She. War”, the “Public Talk” program, and the “Side by Side” podcast, which tells the stories of Ukrainian soldiers. “Nakypilo not only produces high-quality and unbiased content, but also contributes to the development and strengthening of effective mechanisms for networking, cooperation and exchange of experience in the community of journalists in Kharkiv region.

“Portraits of Mariupol” and “Afloat” are projects aimed at supporting the community that was forced to leave the city, in the case of Mariupol, and the residents of Kherson, which is constantly under fire and where street art can only exist on wooden slabs of condominiums, which cover most windows.

The Portraits of Mariupol project tells 27 stories of IDPs whose lives have changed because of the war. This project, created by the NGO Maria’s Space with the support of the International Renaissance Foundation, aims to collect and disseminate personal stories of Mariupol residents, as well as create their portraits as a symbol of a new beginning. The project includes exhibitions, art workshops, lectures, and public talks, allowing the heroes to share their experiences and find support.

The project “Afloat” in Kherson is a response to the difficult living conditions in the city after the occupation. It brought together artists from within the city and those who were forced to leave, creating exhibitions in empty windows and on facades to restore cultural life and morale. This initiative demonstrates the resilience of Kherson’s culture and helps to preserve community ties regardless of distance.

Projects to restore social capital, as a direction of the Foundation’s work, became especially relevant when the occupation forces of the Russian Federation committed a war crime and an act of ecocide by blowing up the Kakhovka hydroelectric power station dam. As a result, about 16,000 people were displaced and about 80 settlements were flooded in whole or in part. The Foundation supported civil society organizations, activists, journalists, volunteers – everyone who could help people stay safe and recover.

One of these projects was to support the activities of the independent Kherson-based media outlet MOST, whose editorial staff, in the face of limited access to the region by national media, was able to promptly provide its readers with information about the life of the liberated and temporarily occupied settlements of the Kherson region, preparing daily, primarily unique news and series of materials about the lives of people in the Kherson region. MOST also focused on writing materials aimed at debunking Russian propaganda. The editorial office relayed information by all possible means: its own website, Facebook, Telegram and TikTok channels.

The Association of the Ukrainian Peacebuilding School, which undertook to support civic initiatives and volunteer movements in the Kherson region by creating a coordination platform for a systematic approach to overcoming the consequences of the crisis caused by the destruction of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant and the continuation of Russian military aggression. To this end, the USC team constantly monitored the situation in the de-occupied territories of southern Ukraine, as well as conducted coordination activities of Kherson civic activists and research to plan joint activities to overcome the consequences of Russia’s military aggression and further restore the region.

Human-centered recovery

The Alliance of Ukrainian Universities (Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, National Technical University “Dnipro Polytechnic”, National University of Water and Environmental Engineering, Sumy State University, Ukrainian Catholic University and Kyiv School of Economics) has launched an ambitious initiative focused on cooperation with local communities by using the expertise of educational institutions to plan and implement projects to rebuild Ukraine, taking into account the actual needs of communities. The selected 12 communities will have the opportunity to conduct a comprehensive assessment of their needs and develop pilot development projects together with the universities, as well as improve the skills of local professionals and establish cooperation between communities and university experts.

The project also has a direct impact on each higher education institution that is a member of the Alliance. For example, researching the needs of communities and conducting training programs for communities encourages universities to improve and develop new programs focused on solving specific problems, as well as to form new partnerships with local governments, think tanks, and businesses.

The main principles of the Alliance are cooperation and openness, human-centeredness, quality and effective management, responsibility, ethics, fair contribution, academic excellence, social responsibility, and Ukrainian territorial and intellectual sovereignty.

International solidarity with Ukraine

In order to strengthen international solidarity and support for Ukraine, we help to bring knowledge of history, culture, and truthful information about modern Ukraine to international audiences and promote a better understanding of what we are fighting for.

The I. Lysiak-Rudnytsky Ukrainian Studies Support Program is a long-term program to support Ukrainian studies projects for educational, scientific, cultural institutions and think tanks. The program is implemented by the Ukrainian Institute in partnership with the Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation with the financial support of the International Renaissance Foundation.

The I. Lysiak-Rudnytsky Ukrainian Studies Program focuses on the development of knowledge about Ukraine, its past and present at the international level. The program emphasizes the importance of representing Ukrainian studies in the global academic space and contributes to strengthening intellectual ties between Ukraine and the international community.

When it comes to supporting solidarity with Ukraine in the world, it is important not only to organize meetings and implement projects calling for solidarity across borders. It is also important to demonstrate the consequences of the Russian army’s crimes against Ukraine and its culture, to provide a sense of context and understanding of the current situation in Ukraine at war. Visits to Ukraine by foreign writers, journalists, and intellectuals are such a tool.

In Solidarity With Ukraine includes 4 delegations from Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and France. As part of the initiative, 20 foreign writers, journalists, publicists, cultural managers and opinion leaders held a series of meetings with Ukrainian cultural and human rights organizations, military journalists and artists, and visited de-occupied and frontline cities and villages affected by Russia’s war against Ukraine.

The project involves international writers and cultural figures in visits to Ukraine, showing them the consequences of the war. This helps to increase international support and disseminate objective information about the situation in Ukraine through cultural and media channels. The visits provide a direct dialog between Ukrainian and foreign cultural representatives, deepening understanding and cooperation.

Democracy and Good Governance Program

Development of environmental organizations

In 2023, the EPAIU Initiative summarized the main results of its five-year activities, in particular in terms of contribution to the development of Ukraine’s environmental policy. In total, more than 40 CSOs have completed the EPAIU training program since 2019. Thirteen of them have been able to deepen their institutional development and strengthen their capacity in analytical and advocacy activities.

During this time, an informal community of environmental NGOs has been built that is influential at different levels and on different topics, and is also able to develop partnerships between NGOs that deal with environmental issues.

During the implementation of institutional projects, EPAIU grantees developed recommendations for more than 10 draft laws based on their own expert assessments and monitoring (in particular, the law on state environmental control, industrial pollution, waste management, environmental impact assessment, the Emerald Network, and others). Proposals were submitted to 13 strategic documents and 10 environmental programs of national, regional, and local importance (in particular, the Strategy for Environmental Security and Climate Change Adaptation until 2030, the Second Nationally Determined Contribution of Ukraine to the Paris Agreement, the Kyiv City Eco-Strategy until 2030, the Lviv City Waste Management Strategy, and many others). Important were also the materials developed by the grantees on strategic environmental court proceedings, monitoring data on the state of the occupied Crimea’s ecosystem, eco-monitoring methodologies, educational materials, etc.

EPAIU also developed an important area of partnership with the eco-community from the regions of Ukraine with the most unfavorable environmental situation. A total of 27 “small” local grants were implemented that addressed important environmental issues. In particular, the small projects developed a methodology for calculating the damage caused to soils as a result of the Russian war and a GIS map showing the effects of the Russian war on the ecosystems of the Kharkiv region. It was also important to show how environmental projects help to integrate localized NGOs and, together with local eco-activists, solve environmental problems of host communities (in particular, in Cherkasy, Kalush, Drohobych, Khmelnytskyi, and Kirovohrad regions).

The EPAIU initiative is being implemented with the support of Sweden.

Transparency of extractive industries

For more than 10 years, the Foundation has been engaging government, civil society and the private sector to work together to increase transparency, which has helped reduce corruption and improve natural resource governance. As a result of this work, the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, a global standard initiative aimed at increasing transparency and improving governance in the extractive industries, has been operating in Ukraine for 10 years. It brings together representatives of governments, companies and civil society to ensure open and responsible management of natural resources.

The EITI contributes to increasing transparency in the natural resources sector, which is critical for reducing corruption risks. In an environment where natural resources are often the target of corrupt schemes, transparency plays a key role in preventing abuse and illicit enrichment, ensuring that resources are used fairly and efficiently for the benefit of the whole society.

The Initiative also helps to attract investment in the extractive industries, increasing investor confidence in the Ukrainian market environment. Transparency in management and reporting creates favorable conditions for foreign and domestic investors, indicating a low level of risk and a high degree of responsibility in resource management. This not only contributes to economic growth, but also ensures the creation of new jobs and improves the welfare of the population.

Finally, the EITI plays an important role in building trust between the government, the private sector and the public. Cooperation between these stakeholders is key to achieving mutual understanding and common goals in natural resource management. Ensuring transparency and openness of information helps to increase accountability and reduce the possibility of corruption.

In 2023, a conference dedicated to the 10th anniversary of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative in Ukraine was held to discuss the achievements and prospects of transparency in the extractive industries. The International Renaissance Foundation was a key partner and co-organizer of this event. Ukraine, which joined the EITI in 2013, has demonstrated significant progress in implementing transparency standards, becoming one of the leaders in this initiative at the global level. With the support of the International Renaissance Foundation, Ukraine continues to develop transparency in the extractive industries, which contributes to the fight against corruption and attracting investment.

Oleksiy Orlovsky received a special award from the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) at their Global Conference in Dakar, Senegal. He was recognized for his contribution to promoting democratic values and transparency in the extractive industries since 2007. This is only the second time that an EITI award has been given to an individual rather than a country. His work has significantly advanced transparency in Ukraine’s extractive sectors and supported the global goals of EITI.

Shaping the vision of the future of Donetsk and Luhansk regions

In 2023, the All-Ukrainian Association for Community Self-Organization Assistance, in cooperation with the Centre of Policy and Legal Reform, the Luhansk Oblast Civic Initiative, and the Association for Renaissance and Development, launched a major joint project aimed at developing a vision of approaches to the institutional restoration of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts for the period after de-occupation.

The focus of this joint initiative is on the prospects for organizing public authorities in these regions, the problem of staffing such authorities, the prospects for the future administrative and territorial structure of the regions and their possible reconfiguration, as well as the possibility of using certain public participation tools that can be used in the de-occupied Ukrainian Donbas for the transitional period – until the full formation of local governments.

The research work allowed the coalition of civil society organizations to prepare analytical products and develop approaches to addressing these complex issues, which were presented at thematic roundtables with representatives of state authorities, local authorities of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, the expert community, civil society organizations, etc. In 2024, this activity will continue and will be more focused on drafting the necessary regulations and a broad information campaign.

This work contributes to the creation of an effective model of transitional governance, which is key to ensuring stability and security in the region. Addressing the organization of public authorities, staffing, and administrative and territorial structure of the regions, taking into account their specifics and needs, will ensure effective governance and facilitate faster socio-economic recovery.

The second important aspect is the involvement of the public in the recovery and governance process, which helps to increase trust between the population and the authorities and ensures that the needs of communities are taken into account more effectively. The use of public participation tools in the de-occupied territories can significantly strengthen social cohesion and contribute to the formation of a sustainable local government structure.

The documents developed by the coalition of civil society organizations will not only help to address the complex issues of recovery, but will also serve as a basis for the development of future legislation necessary for the full restoration and integration of these areas into a single legal, social and economic space of Ukraine.

Ensuring a national resilience system

On November 10, 2023, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine approved an action plan to implement the Concept of the National Resilience System until 2025.

It covers a variety of measures aimed at strengthening national security, including identifying and assessing threats, enhancing crisis preparedness, developing the competencies of civil servants, and ensuring the sustainable functioning of government agencies and the provision of basic services to the population. This plan is important for increasing the country’s readiness to various challenges, ensuring the safety of citizens and the stable development of the state in the face of potential crises.

Although the Concept itself was enacted by a Presidential Decree back in September 2021, the plan for its implementation was not approved until the outbreak of full-scale war.

Since the Concept envisaged the introduction of a set of targeted actions, methods and mechanisms of interaction between public authorities, local governments, enterprises, institutions, organizations, and civil society institutions that guarantee the safety and continuity of the main spheres of life of society and the state before, during and after the onset of a crisis, the need to develop a high-quality action plan as soon as possible became acute with the start of the full-scale invasion.

This is what the project of the NGO Center for Liberal Policy, supported by the Foundation, was aimed at.

The plan was formed based on the results of an assessment of Ukraine’s resilience system in a full-scale war with Russia. The Concept Implementation Plan includes measures to effectively respond to threats and risks of any nature. The document is expected to help strengthen the capabilities of government and local authorities in this area.

The plan also aims to develop skills and algorithms of citizens’ behavior during threats and crises, including support of the defense forces by the local population.

The document defines the purpose, basic principles, directions, mechanisms and elements of the national resilience system.

According to the Plan, resilience is the ability of the state and society to timely identify threats and vulnerabilities, assess risks to national security, respond quickly and effectively, and fully recover from threats, including hybrid, emergency situations and crises of any nature.

Anti-corruption training

The IZI Anti-Corruption Center, CHESNO Movement, Statewatch, Anti-Corruption Headquarters, Center for Fiscal Policy Studies, with the support of the International Renaissance Foundation, held the Anti-Corruption School for regional journalists, activists and NGO representatives.

The Anti-Corruption School is a 5-day intensive course from experts in the field of anti-corruption, public control, and investigative journalists, during which journalists and activists improve their knowledge and practical skills.

23 alumni, including military officers, journalists, civic activists, volunteers, and lawyers, joined the School’s community. They represent 20 cities of Ukraine. They will be conducting anti-corruption investigations, monitoring how and where funds are spent, where price gouging is possible, and who will be appointed to positions in the reconstruction effort.

The school’s program focuses on teaching methods for monitoring public procurement, conducting investigations, and using modern tools for analyzing budget expenditures and anti-corruption activities. Participants learned how to work with databases, verify information on expenses and salaries, as well as how to document losses and use the register of traitors. In addition, the program includes the development of communication skills and personal branding, which will help participants to communicate their ideas more effectively and promote public involvement in monitoring the recovery process and anti-corruption activities. This course is important for strengthening civil society and increasing transparency in the management of public resources.

The Foundation supported the third annual conference “Corruption Whistleblowers in Ukraine: Successes and Challenges”, which brought together more than 2,900 offline and online viewers and 17 expert speakers.

The conference discussed key aspects of whistleblower protection, especially in the context of wartime, the development of IT tools for handling whistleblower reports, and the need to build a culture of integrity. Experts from Ukraine and international experts shared their experience and practical recommendations on how to improve whistleblower protection mechanisms, and discussed the importance of implementing modern IT systems for effective corruption reporting. The event emphasized the critical role of whistleblowers in the fight against corruption and the importance of creating a safe environment for their work.

The first graduation of the certificate program “Minimizing Corruption Risks at All Stages of the Anti-Corruption Commissioner’s Work in Reconstruction Projects” took place, the first training program in Ukraine to improve the skills of commissioners, which provides participants with tools for implementing infrastructure projects as part of Ukraine’s recovery process. The Foundation supports the work of this program.

The certificate program launched by ACREC is important for the professional development of anti-corruption commissioners involved in reconstruction projects in Ukraine. This initiative provides the Commissioners with important tools and knowledge to ensure transparency and efficiency in the management of financial resources for reconstruction. The role of the anti-corruption commissioners in this process is crucial for preventing corruption and strengthening the principles of good governance and accountability, making this program an important step towards creating an effective system of control over the use of public resources.

Evaluation of macro-financial assistance programs

The RRR4U Consortium minimizes corruption risks in reconstruction projects, focusing on a just, green, and people-centered economic recovery in Ukraine. This includes policy analysis, advocacy, and cooperation with key actors in society and government to develop and implement financial policies that will promote sustainable economic development. The importance of this initiative lies in raising public awareness, promoting legal and policy reforms, and ensuring the long-term economic stability of Ukraine, including through the active participation of civil society.

RRR4U brings together four Ukrainian civil society organizations with financial support from the International Renaissance Foundation. The members of the Consortium are the Center for Economic Strategy, the Institute for Economic Research and Policy Consulting, the Institute for Analysis and Advocacy, and DiXi Group.

The association aims to analyze policy, conduct advocacy, and ensure a dialogue between researchers, business, civil society, and government to identify effective strategies for economic recovery. The goals of the consortium are focused on providing expert advice, facilitating policy development, activating civil society, and raising awareness of the economic situation and legal reforms. This is of great importance for ensuring Ukraine’s sustainable development and integration into the European economic space, given the challenges the country has faced in recent years.

Among other things, the consortium analyzed the conditions for receiving financial assistance to Ukraine from partner countries and organizations, and developed advice for the authorities. The #RRR4U consortium initiated regular monitoring of Ukraine’s fulfillment of IMF beacons and commitments to the EU, which are part of loan memorandums aimed at achieving macroeconomic stability and stimulating economic growth.

For example, the monitoring of the implementation of the EU macro-financial assistance program presented by the RRR4U consortium showed that Ukraine is actively working to fulfill its agreements with the EU, having successfully implemented a significant part of its obligations. However, there are challenges, including the political risk of missing deadlines. Positive results in the banking sector, law enforcement and energy reforms indicate Ukraine’s ability to achieve macroeconomic stability and create conditions for economic growth, while the failure to fulfill some obligations requires further attention and action.

Human Rights and Justice Program

Justice in times of war

The issue of criminal liability for cooperation with the occupation authorities is of particular relevance in the context of preserving the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the state. This applies not only to persons residing in the territories controlled by the Ukrainian government, but also to those in the occupied territories. The definition of clear criteria and conditions for bringing to justice for collaboration, as well as the fair and objective application of the relevant provisions of the law, are key to the successful reintegration of the liberated territories and the restoration of trust between citizens.

ZMINA conducts an in-depth analysis of both existing trends and potential problems related to the application of Ukrainian legislation on collaboration. This allows not only to identify shortcomings in the legal framework, but also to develop recommendations for its improvement. An important aspect of this work is not only the punishment for collaborationism, but also the development of effective mechanisms for the rehabilitation of persons who were involved in cooperation with the occupiers under duress or out of ignorance.

In order to establish a uniform and proper practice of handling such cases, it is important to ensure cooperation between law enforcement agencies, the judiciary and the public. Particular attention should be paid to the transparency and fairness of trials to avoid politicization and subjectivity in dealing with such sensitive issues.

It is also important to take into account international experience and international law when formulating domestic policies on collaborationism. This can help Ukraine not only to effectively combat this problem at the national level, but also to secure recognition and support from the international community.

As a result, a balanced approach to the issue of collaborationism, which includes both legislative and practical aspects, can be a decisive factor in the process of reintegrating the occupied territories and restoring national unity. This is the focus of the ZMINA project.

Documentation of the war crimes

The War Archive project, which is curated by Docudays, is an innovative initiative aimed at preserving the complex history of the full-scale conflict between Russia and Ukraine, which has become one of the most significant and tragic events in modern history. The project is based on an understanding of the importance of documenting and preserving historical memory for future generations, as well as the urgent need to counter disinformation and war propaganda.

The digital platform developed for the War Archive is a huge database that includes millions of records in various formats – video, audio, photographs and text materials. These recordings cover a wide range of topics, from documenting crimes against civilians committed by Russian forces to stories of heroic resistance by Ukrainians, the activities of volunteer centers, examples of citizen self-organization, the contribution of the Ukrainian army to the defense of the country, as well as Ukrainian humor and folk myths related to the war.

The detailed analysis and classification of materials is carried out by a specialized group of the Archive’s specialists, who use a pre-prepared set of key terms and categories. Additionally, the content is translated into English and transcribed.

“The War Archive is a non-public resource that is accessible after passing an integrity check and authorization. The archive has implemented a three-tiered system of access to information that guarantees the protection of personal data and confidential information. The archive has several protected copies, access to which is provided through modern security protocols and cyber security tools.

Thanks to a unique data processing system that allows establishing relationships and cross-references between documents, users can effectively identify both quantitative and qualitative aspects of the materials under research. The platform provides the ability to filter content by keywords and matches, allowing for the identification of research priorities.

“The War Archive also fulfills an important mission in the fight against disinformation and propaganda that often accompanies military conflicts. By providing open access to verified information and testimonies, the project helps to form an objective view of the events of the war, promotes historical truth, and provides the means for legal prosecution of those responsible for war crimes.

The project of the Regional Center for Human Rights “In Search of Justice: Documentation and Prosecution of War Crimes” also deals with the documentation of war crimes. The incident with the explosion in the living quarters intended for the detention of Ukrainian prisoners of war on the territory of the Volnovakha penal colony indicates a possible violation by the Russian Federation of the fundamental principles of international humanitarian law governing the treatment of prisoners of war. This tragic episode, which resulted in the deaths of more than 55 prisoners of war and the injury of approximately 140 people, occurred more than a year ago. However, the detailed circumstances of this event still remain unclear, which is a cause for concern and calls for a thorough and independent investigation.

Ukrainian national authorities are facing significant obstacles in conducting an investigation into the tragedy, as they have been unable to gain access to the site. This is compounded by the refusal of Russian law enforcement agencies to cooperate not only with international organizations, but also with Ukrainian investigators, which is critical to establishing the truth and bringing those responsible to justice.

In response to these challenges, the Regional Center for Human Rights is actively working to collect evidence and information that could point to the involvement of individuals from the highest command of the Russian Federation in the organization and execution of the criminal act in Olenivka. These efforts are aimed at preparing and submitting materials to the International Criminal Court to ensure justice and accountability for gross violations of international laws. This step is important not only for bringing the perpetrators to justice, but also for restoring justice and protecting human rights at the international level, demonstrating the inadmissibility of violations of the rules of war and abuses in conflict zones.

Repatriation of abducted children

The Russian Federation deports and detains Ukrainian children in the territory it controls, preventing their repatriation, in particular through a policy of forcibly imposing Russian citizenship and adoption into Russian families. Delaying repatriation is a systemic policy of Russian officials aimed at permanently keeping Ukrainian children in Russian-controlled territory and separating them from their cultural and national identity.

The Regional Center for Human Rights, in cooperation with the Lemkin Institute in the United States, initiated the submission of a Communication to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in order to draw attention to this critical situation and help restore justice. The appeal to the ICC carries an important strategic goal – not only to provide a legal assessment of the actions of the Russian Federation, but also to encourage the international community to act to protect the rights of children who are victims of military conflicts and political manipulation.

The actions of the Regional Center for Human Rights and the Lemkin Institute are important not only for the immediate resolution of the problem of repatriation of Ukrainian children, but also for preventive influence on future similar situations, setting a precedent for the inadmissibility of violations of children’s rights in conflict zones, and strengthening international standards for the protection of human rights.

Supporting the resilience of prosecutors and police officers in times of war

Working in wartime creates many challenges that are significantly different from normal everyday life. During this period, employees face increased psychological stress and physical uncertainty, which requires a special approach to the performance of their duties. Law enforcement officials, including police and prosecutors, regularly work in areas where tragic events have occurred, especially in frontline areas. This environment inevitably leads to increased emotional and physical stress.

The project of the Ukrainian Legal Aid FoundationStrengthening the system of psychological support for prosecutors and employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs” is aimed at improving the methods of work of psychologists who interact with law enforcement officers, as well as optimizing the processes of interaction with civilians affected by the war. This initiative includes the design and implementation of training and development programs for MoIA psychologists to provide them with the necessary knowledge and tools to provide effective psychological assistance in conditions where conventional methods may not be effective enough.

The initiative to support regional prosecutors is focused on studying the specifics of their work under martial law in order to identify opportunities to improve work processes, including adaptation to the difficult and risky circumstances caused by the hostilities. This involves analyzing workloads and working conditions, as well as developing recommendations for optimizing work procedures and staff support mechanisms, including psychological training and access to resources to strengthen emotional resilience.

Both projects play an important role in ensuring the stability and effectiveness of law enforcement during wartime, contributing not only to strengthening the professional skills and psychological resilience of personnel, but also to increasing trust and security among the civilian population. They recognize the unique challenges faced by law enforcement and other law enforcement personnel during wartime and emphasize the need for a comprehensive approach to addressing them.

Protection of the rights of prisoners of war

The project of the Media Initiative for Human Rights “Protecting the Rights of Prisoners of War: Support and Advocacy for Families” is aimed at helping prisoners of war captured by the Russian Federation after the start of the full-scale invasion, as well as supporting their families. It aims not only to facilitate the release of prisoners, but also to provide sustainable support to their families during the trials of their missing loved ones.

One of the key goals of the project is to create a strong network of connections between the families of prisoners of war from different units, allowing them to share information, experiences and provide each other with emotional support. Such communication is extremely important in an environment where information is limited and uncertainty causes increased anxiety and stress among relatives of prisoners of war.

The project also facilitates an effective dialog between the families of prisoners of war and representatives of government agencies. This includes providing access to important information about the status and conditions of detention of prisoners of war, as well as the process of their release. In addition, families are provided with legal advice and support.

Active media coverage of the issue of Ukrainian prisoners of war also plays an important role in raising public awareness. Increased attention to this issue contributes to the growth of public pressure on the relevant governmental and international bodies to speed up the process of releasing prisoners and improving their conditions of detention.

In general, the project not only provides direct assistance and support to those who have faced the brutality of war, but also contributes to the formation of a stronger and more united community capable of effectively defending their rights and interests in extremely difficult conditions.

Digital security of citizens

In today’s world, technological innovations, in particular the development of artificial intelligence (AI), are finding more and more applications in various spheres of life, including law enforcement. The use of such technologies can significantly improve the efficiency of investigations, data analysis, and responsiveness to crimes. However, along with the positive aspects, there are also growing concerns about potential risks to privacy, rights and freedoms of citizens. In the context of Ukraine, where the National Police is actively exploring the possibilities of integrating AI and other technologies into its activities, there is an urgent need for an in-depth analysis and assessment of these risks.

The project MINZMIN “Strengthening the Capacity of the National Police of Ukraine in Analyzing the Risks of Technology Impact on Digital Security” is aimed at developing a comprehensive methodology for assessing the risks associated with the use of technology in the activities of the National Police of Ukraine. The goal is not only to identify potential threats to the rights of citizens, but also to develop an effective strategy for managing these risks. The project involves engaging experts in law, ethics, technology, and cybersecurity to develop evidence-based recommendations that will help ensure the balanced use of AI while preserving fundamental human rights.

One of the key components of the project is the development of a roadmap that will include recommendations for minimizing risks. This involves not only improving the legal and regulatory framework, but also implementing best practices in the ethics of AI use, developing mechanisms for transparency and accountability in working with technology, and creating monitoring and audit systems.

The project is of great importance not only for the law enforcement system of Ukraine but also for society as a whole, as it aims to ensure public trust in technological innovations in the field of law enforcement. Protecting individual rights and freedoms when using the latest technologies is a key element of a democratic state that supports the principles of transparency, accountability and civilian control.

As a result, the project will not only improve the efficiency of the National Police, but will also help to strengthen the protection of human rights in the era of rapid technological development, ensuring a harmonious combination of progress and fundamental values of society.

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