On September 10 and 11, 2020, the Yaroslav Mudryi National Law University and the University of South Carolina (USA) held an online roundtable to present capstones and hand in certificates to graduates of the second round of the International Rule of Law Certificate Program developed and implemented with the support of the USAID New Justice Program.
Marc Ellingstad, Director of the Office of Democracy and Governance, USAID Regional Mission for Ukraine and Belarus, addressed participants with a welcoming speech. “We all know that the rule of law is a cornerstone principle for any democratic society and a prerequisite for sustainable economic and social development,” he stated. “This is why USAID, through the New Justice Program, is very pleased to support this certificate program and foster adherence to the rule of law across a broad range of legal professionals, who must work together for the justice sector as a whole to effectively meet public expectations.”
29 graduates of the program – judges, prosecutors, attorneys and other lawyers-practitioners, including in the field of public administration, as well as master program students of law schools – were selected on a competitive basis from more than 200 candidates from majority of regions of Ukraine. During the intensive two-week training in October and November 2019, they acquired the comprehensive knowledge necessary for a comprehensive understanding of the rule of law and developed skills for its practical application in various fields of law.
“Despite the quarantine restrictions, the pandemic and related measures, we will strive for our family – this community that we created three years ago – to grow, for you to help each other and for you to know that our law schools are always your alma mater and our team is always ready to cooperate with you,” said Yuri Barabash, Vice-Rector of the Yaroslav Mudryi National Law University.
Agreeing with this, Joel Samuels, Director of the Rule of Law Collaborative at the University of South Carolina, noted that over the years of creating and implementing the certificate program, the two universities and their team members have developed a truly long-term relationship.
“This is a lifelong relationship between our institutions and between members of our teams. Now it has become a real model for rule of law certificate programs to help successful judges and lawyers and prosecutors like all of you to develop additional skills that I hope will be helpful in your practices,” he emphasized.
During the final roundtable, the participants presented their capstones, which they worked on to address specific issues related to the application of the rule of law in areas such as the protection of the rights of internally displaced persons, people with disabilities, consumer rights, facilitating access to justice for vulnerable groups of population, ensuring judicial independence, conducting a selection procedure for judges and jurors, ensuring a unified law enforcement practice in environmental matters and in exercising citizens’ land rights. During the discussion, the graduates received feedback from their colleagues, teachers and graduates of the first round of the program, and identified the next steps to jointly implement these projects in organizations and regions they work in.
“There are many challenges in the process of ensuring the application of the rule of law, like COVID-19 pandemic today, therefore your in-depth knowledge and ability to work to implement the rule of law under any circumstances is crucial for Ukraine. You have become a strong team of like-minded people, you are true leaders,” said David Vaughan, Chief of Party of the USAID New Justice Program.
He also mentioned that discussions with the partners are underway regarding the third round of the program and ensuring its sustainability. Thus, such certificate program will continue in Ukraine.