About the project

In October 2019, the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) launched the project “Promoting Internet Freedom in Ukraine”. This 36-month project will help stakeholders advocate for laws and policies that promote Internet freedom and freedom of expression online.
Over the past few years, the Ukrainian Parliament has actively developed and amended a wide range of laws regulating Internet freedom. This was often done in haste and in response to Russian interventions, the annexation of Crimea, and the conflict in Eastern Ukraine. During this period, civil society organizations (CSOs) and Internet freedom activists, understanding the real threat to the national security faced by Ukraine, worked to promote laws and policies that protect freedom of expression. However, despite the tremendous work done to protect Internet freedom and freedom of expression online, the government policy in this area remains unclear and unpredictable, and CSOs should continue to monitor these processes and try to adjust them based on international standards.
Besides, local CSOs often need international expertise to obtain information about Internet freedom and freedom of expression online. This need sometimes provokes delayed reactions of local organizations to rapid changes in the legislative environment of Ukraine. It is therefore important to develop the knowledge and capacity of local human rights activists and public organizations, contributing to the independence of Ukrainian civil society organizations in their efforts to protect Internet freedom.
According to the plans of the new program, ABA ROLI will collaborate with local CSOs, Ukrainian and foreign experts, and produce a common vision and approaches together with private sector, Parliament and government agencies with the objective of:

* strengthening expertise in issues related to Internet freedom and national security;
* improving legal awareness to ensure respect for human rights principles when drafting new laws;
* enhancing the capacity of Ukrainian civil society organizations to protect and promote Internet freedom;
* encouraging interaction between CSOs, private sector, and government authorities.

To achieve these goals and advocate for human rights on the Internet, ABA ROLI plans to organize expert symposia and conferences with representatives of local and international legal and human rights organizations, lawyers, private sector, government authorities and public organizations. Also, to promote Internet freedom and freedom of expression online, ABA ROLI will provide technical assistance and financial support to local CSOs selected on a competitive basis.
Prior to that, in June 2016, ABA ROLI launched the Program “Development and Improvement of Legal Frameworks to Protect Internet Rights and Freedoms in Eastern Europe and Eurasia” and provided support to the development and improvement of legal frameworks to protect Internet rights and freedoms in Europe and Eurasia (E & E) with the long-term objective of creating a more favorable legal environment for the use and exchange of information.
As part of that Program, ABA ROLI worked with regional civil society organizations and experts in 11 countries of the region to build a community and develop the capacity of lawyers, attorneys and public organizations to promote the freedom of expression, association and dissemination of information on the Internet.
The program aimed at:
• creating and training a regional network of specialized lawyers, advocates and activists of public organizations in order to promote Internet freedoms and provide them with legal and procedure-related support;
* expanding the coverage by the network of relevant lawyers, advocates and activists by strengthening the national level of activity and interaction; and
* engaging lawmakers, policy makers, and the executive branch by developing and distributing standard draft regulations and carrying out educational seminars.

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