Judicial candidates undergoing anonymous testing.
Judicial candidates undergoing anonymous testing.
Courtesy of USAID FAIR paroject.

Public opinion polling indicates that Ukrainian citizens lack confidence in the justice system. Widespread corruption in the Rule of Law sector has constrained progress in democratic institution-building, integration into European institutions and economic reform. Judicial reform remains highly politicized. Judicial reform will not enjoy public trust until these institutions are demonstrably independent, impartial and accountable. Legislative reform is advancing, but many key challenges remain, including:

  • Lack of transparency, effectiveness and efficiency in court operations;
  • Lack of leadership in promoting judicial independence;
  • Limited training opportunities for judges and court stuff;
  • Low level of public trust and confidence in the judicial system.
  • In addition to continuing systemic human rights problems, domestic and international observers report an escalation of human rights violations by non-state actors in the East and South of the country starting in May 2014.


  • To promote the establishment of an effective, transparent and independent judiciary.
  • To aid Ukraine’s efforts to reduce and deter corruption.
  • To promote and cultivate respect for human rights in Ukraine.

USAID’s activities in the Rule of Law and Human Rights sectors focus on increasing judicial independence, accountability, and transparency, as well as promoting and cultivating respect for human rights in line with European standards.


Fair, Accountable, Independent, and Responsible (FAIR) Judiciary Program
USAID supports legislative, regulatory, and institutional reform of the judicial sector to build a foundation for a more accountable and independent judiciary. The FAIR program: 1) promotes constitutional, legislative, and regulatory reform in compliance with international and European standards; 2) strengthens the accountability and transparency of key judicial institutions and operations; 3) bolsters the professionalism and effectiveness of the Ukrainian judiciary; 4) supports civil society organizations in advocating for and monitoring judicial reform; and 5) supports a fair and transparent process for the lustration and vetting of public officials and judges to advance greater public trust and confidence in government. FAIR program activities include: 1) support to judicial reform related legislative initiatives, including the constitutional reform process; 2) technical assistance to the High Council of Justice and High Qualifications Commission of Judges to further improve judicial testing and selection processes, as well as disciplinary procedures for judges; 3) Work with the Council of Judges and State Judicial Administration to improve judicial self-governance and court administration and management; 4) support to the National School of Judges in the design, implementation, and evaluation of training programs for the judiciary; and, 5) expert support to working groups, conferences, and roundtables focused on constitutional and judicial reform issues. Through the FAIR program, USAID also supports civil society organizations engaged in monitoring court performance and lustration and vetting processes, raising public awareness about judicial process and procedures, and advocating for judicial reform related matters.

Human Rights in Action
USAID supports protecting, empowering and advocating for human rights defenders, organizations, and citizens whose rights were violated, through support to the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union, an umbrella coalition of 29 human rights organizations. The Human Rights in Action program responds to human rights violations and empowers human rights activists through: 1) Human rights monitoring and advocacy; 2) Strategic litigation on human rights cases; 3) Awareness raising and citizen empowerment regarding human rights; 4) Strengthening the Chernihiv Educational Human Rights House.


  • Through the FAIR program, USAID improved the legal and regulatory framework to promote judicial independence by drafting and implementing a modern Code of Judicial Ethics and Strategic Plan for the Ukrainian Judiciary for 2013 to 2015 both approved by the 11th Congress of Judges of Ukraine in February 2013. FAIR helped courts develop and pilot performance evaluation criteria to increase the transparency and efficiency of judicial operations. FAIR also strengthened the professionalism and accountability of the judiciary through a variety of training programs for judges and court staff.
  • To improve court and community communications FAIR helped draft a public outreach curriculum and manual for judges and court staff, as well as supported the State Judicial Administration in implementing the first online course for court staff on “Courts and Community Communications”.
  • FAIR helped the High Qualifications Commission of Judges to increase the transparency of judicial selection by standardizing the application process and procedures for anonymous, merit-based testing of judicial candidates monitored by civil society organizations.
  • FAIR cooperated with Michigan State University to support the State Judicial Administration and the National School of Judges in designing and implementing a pilot Court Administration Certificate Program - the first academic court administration program ever delivered in Ukraine.
  • Leading up to the 2014 Presidential elections, FAIR, in cooperation with the High Administrative Court of Ukraine, OSCE, and IFES conducted a series of judicial training programs on the application of election law and the resolution of disputes in presidential and local elections. 280 judges from 142 courts in 19 regions participated in these events.
  • The Human Rights in Action Program trained 15 civic monitors who are involved in monitoring the human rights situation in eastern Ukraine and sponsored two fact-finding missions with a focus on children’s rights to the Ukrainian military-controlled area in Donbas and to Odesa Oblast.
  • The Human Rights in Action Program cooperated with the Ministry of Justice-led Working Group and with the Human Rights Commissioner’s Office in designing the National Human Rights Strategy.
  • The Human Rights in Action Program equipped Ukraine’s first national human rights platform, the Chernihiv Educational Human Rights House, which is a safe haven for at-risk human rights defenders from the wider Eurasia region.

Last updated: August 04, 2015

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