Supporting Civil Society in Eurasia
The CEELI Institute is organizing workshops for lawyers and civil society representatives from Ukraine and other Eurasian countries, focusing on mechanisms for enhancing government accountability to civil society, and strengthening the public’s capacity to demand transparent government. Funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL), the program is designed to support civic-minded organizations in their efforts to access and obtain public information, to undertake public oversight activities, and to use such information to conduct advocacy campaigns, investigative efforts and legal actions aimed at increasing government accountability. The program puts particular emphasis on developing capacity to successfully request and obtain public source records from government sources, and to use that information in creative public information and anti-corruption campaigns designed to present public information in clear and accessible formats.
As part of the program, participants are also encouraged to develop personal action plans to practically implement the information provided in the trainings. Participants articulate and identify specific research and advocacy objectives, the specific steps necessary to reach their goal, the hurdles that can reasonably be expected, and the means to overcome them. Representative participant projects have included examinations of how municipal appropriations have been spent, and investigations into the ways in which public procurement processes have been conducted.
In April 2015, CEELI, working in partnership with the Ukrainian NGO Regional Press Development Institute (RDPI), continued the thematic track titled “Reporting for Public Accountability.” The 4-day program focused on fostering cooperation among lawyers, journalists and NGO representatives in monitoring, researching, and reporting on cases involving matters of public accountability and transparency of government activities. The curriculum focused on issues including privacy laws, comparative analysis of media legislation in various countries, protection of whistleblowers and access to public information. A follow-up training is scheduled for October 2015.