Ten Ways the U.S. Should Help Civil Society in Ukraine

WASHINGTON, D.C.— A year after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Human Rights First issued a briefing with ten recommendations for how the United States can immediately support Ukraine’s civil society.

“Ukraine’s civil society responded magnificently to Russia’s large-scale invasion a year ago, providing urgent medical care, documenting war crimes, and distributing humanitarian aid,” said the briefing’s author, Human Rights First Senior Advisor Brian Dooley. “But local activists need more help to further their success. There are practical things the U.S. can do, starting right now, to support them and the reforms they are seeking.”

Based on in-country consultations with a range of activists, the briefing urges the U.S. government to urgently push for reforms, including creating a Military Ombudsman, further steps to confront corruption, and legalizing same-sex partnerships.

It recommends that the U.S. aid more responsible media coverage of war-related sexual violence and help enable the digitization of evidence to speed up the prosecution of war crimes.

The briefing urges the U.S. government to push for updates to the justice system in Ukraine to handle war crimes better, recommends the U.S. make clear what outcomes would allow the lifting of sanctions, and recommends the U.S. support an international mechanism to help civilian prisoners of war and to urge Ukraine to include civilians in their prisoner swaps.

Human Rights First has made five research visits to Ukraine in the last year, has a long history of documenting human rights violations in the country, and works with local activists to produce concrete ideas for how the U.S. can better support its work.

Concludes Dooley, “Ukraine’s civil society has shown remarkable adaptability in confronting huge challenges, not least in the last 12 months. The U.S. should do everything it can to help it.”

Download the report.

Read Dooley’s piece in The Hill, written with Olha Reshetylova, Coordinator of Ukraine’s Media Initiative for Human Rights, on the recommendations.


Published on February 16, 2023


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