Human Rights Friendly Community Program
educational and Practical Program

We study legal needs, making access to justice necessary and effective
The Human Rights Friendly Community Program assists local multi-sectoral groups in finding complex solutions for systemic legal issues of the community: 1) to identify the problem, 2) analyze its causes, 3) select an alternative for its solution, 4) develop local strategies, and 5) implement them to make a systemic change for enhancing access to justice at the local level

The Program has been implemented since 2019. Program covered 17 municipalities from 12 of 24 Ukrainian oblasts (regions). These municipalities have a total population of more than one million people.
Photo: training for local initiative groups, Kyiv, 2020
Sociological surveys were conducted in the communities to identify legal issues and needs of locals.

These studies allow us to understand how legal problems arise, how people perceive them, and how these proplems affect individuals and society.
Photo: legal needs survey in the municipality of Oleshyn, Khmelnytskyi oblast, 2019
According to a survey in the municipality of Oleshyn (Khmelnytskyi oblast), 30% of surveyed community members seek legal assistance from their acquaintances and friends. And only 20% seek professional advice. The reason for this is the limited access of locals to qualified legal aid. These data helped to raise funding to secure legal services in the community.
Based on legal needs surveys, local roadmaps of improving access to justice are being created.
Photo: the initiative group from Kakhovka (Kherson oblast) advocates for a local roadmap implementing
One of the instruments to secure the sustainability of the Program’s results is local access to justice programs. These programs allow raising funding from local budgets and social investors to implement activities to remove obstacles to solving people's legal problems.
Eight local access to justice programs have already been approved within the Human Rights Friendly Community Program. A recent example is a program adopted in Kreminna , Luhansk oblast, at the end of 2021

Why do communities need enhancing access to justice?

According to recent research in Ukraine, almost 50% of people have had at least one legal problem. Thus, about 20 million Ukrainians need legal support.

Only the government network of free legal aid centers operates systematically in Ukraine. According to the report of this agency for 2020, its capacity is up to one million people a year. But this is only a tenth of the real need.

Over time, the number of people in need of legal aid will increase, and free legal aid centers will not be able to cope even with the flow of clients who physically come to their offices.

To prevent this from happening, local self-governments need to start working on the following strategic areas:

strengthening people's willingness to solve their legal problems
creating a mechanism to meet the request for legal aid at the local level
Access to justice

access to justice is a people’s path to solving their legal problems

Improving access to justice does not mean simply increasing the number of courts, judges, prosecutors, police officers and lawyers. Ensuring effective access to justice is possible only through the following changes:
understanding the real scale of the problem;
society's perception of legal needs as basic, along with access to health care and education;
the government's awareness of the need to prevent and resolve legal problems where they mostly arise (preferably without addressing the formal justice system).
Photo: presentation of results of legal needs survey in the municipality of Shyroke (Zaporizhzhia oblast), 2019

How does it work?

To solve systemic legal problems, communities ought to rely on their own knowledge: identify the problem, analyze its causes, choose an alternative to solve it.

The Human Rights Friendly Community Program assists local initiative groups in developing and conducting research on the legal needs of their communities.

Photo: training on identifying legal issues for social and educational workers, Zaporizhzhia, 2021. Photo by Kateryna Klochko
Program activities include:
Competitive selection of municipalities interested in conducting a local study of legal needs;
Training for multi-sectoral teams from these communities ("how to conduct research", "how to implement research recommendations to improve access to justice");
With the help of program experts, each of the selected teams develops and conducts its own research;
Teams present the results of their research in their communities and advocate for a solution strategy. Based on the research findings, groups initiate the development of local access to justice strategies or use other tools to make systemic changes to ensure access to justice in their communities.

More than 5,000 people participated in legal needs research in their communities. As a result, more than 100 members of the initiative groups improved their skills and knowledge in preparing and conducting research.

Exploring of the community's legal needs

A significant achievement of the Program was the creation of the practical guide ‘Exploring the community's legal needs’

The guide includes experience from more than 50 legal needs studies over the past 25 years in more than 30 countries and three years of practical implementation of the Human Rights Friendly Community Program. The guide's content provides a general understanding of the impact of access to justice on people’s well-being.
Photo: presentation of the guide in Zaporizhzhia, 2021. Photo by Kateryna Klochko
This resource is a step-by-step guide on assembling a research team, planning research, choosing the best method of data collection, analyzing it, and, perhaps most importantly, applying the results to solve the identified problems.
Ukraine's first guide for community legal needs researchers provides an understanding of how to get a real picture of access to justice at the local level in a methodologically correct and low-cost way.
Photo by Kateryna Klochko
In recent years, the approach to research strategies in society has undergone significant changes in understanding the concept of ‘expertise’: who should be an expert what values underlie research.

Previously, the research process involved the presence of external experts - researchers. Now the paradigm is changing. Stakeholders become co-researchers and participate in the decision-making process during the research - from the formation of the research question to the interpretation of the results. The Human Rights Friendly Community Program is based on this participatory approach.

This approach creates space for a collaborative research process, where researchers are community initiative groups. They become agents of informed change rather than trying to adapt community needs to existing, externally implemented services.
Roman Romanov,
Human Rights and Justice Program Director, International Renaissance Foundation

«Legal aid seems to be an endless process with neither a beginning nor an end. This view often restricts attention to problems and stops the search for solutions by those with a programmatic planning framework. The guide ‘Exploring the community's legal needs’ offers solutions for finding tools and identifying performance indicators that translate problem language into solution language, which is extremely valuable»
Programme Council
Yevgen Poltenko

Program Coordinator

Executive Director of the Legal Development Network. Coordination of preparation of educational and methodical materials, generalization and analysis of program results
Olga Halchenko
Member of the Program Council
Human Right and Justice Program Coordinator, International Renaissance Foundation (IRF). Program expert in the field of development, implementation and evaluation of access to justice strategies, preparation of educational and methodical materials
Vitalii Okhrimenko
Member of the Program Council
Program manager of the Legal Development Network. Program expert in the field of development of access to justice programs and evaluation of their effectiveness, preparation of teaching materials, workshops, expert support of initiative groups
Kateryna Yeroshenko
Member of the Program Council
Project coordinator of the Ukrainian Legal Aid Foundation. Program expert in the field of advocacy and development of access to justice programs, preparation of educational and methodical materials, conducting workshops, expert support of initiative groups
Maryna Shpiker
Member of the Program Council
Postgraduate student of the Department of Sociology of the National Technical University of Ukraine "Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute". Program sociologist. Preparation of educational and methodical materials, conducting workshops, expert support of initiative groups
Executive Directorate
+380 44 227 9773
02144, Ukraine, Kyiv, Borysa Hmyri vul., 17, оffice 4
The Human Rights Friendly Community Program has been implemented by the Ukrainian Access to Justice School of Practice since 2019 on the basis of the #PRAVOKATOR network of legal clubs with the support of the Legal Aid Coordination Center , the I nternational Renaissance Foundation , the Ukrainian Legal Aid Foundation , partner organizations and institutions and is administered by the Legal Development Network.