ICNL conducted an International Workshop on Teaching NGO Law from September 12-14, 2008 in Kiev, Ukraine. Over 30 professors and ICNL experts from 12 countries, including some from Europe and the United States, participated in the event and shared their experience teaching NGO Law. The event was co-hosted by the Ukrainian Academy of Municipal Management, the highest educational institution in Ukraine, which has successfully offered the first NGO Law course in Ukraine for the past three years.
The purposes of the workshop were to share knowledge and experience among participants in order to promote the introduction of more NGO Law courses in universities throughout NIS, to contribute to the development of NGO Law as an academic subject, and to expand knowledge of NGO Law teaching methodologies. The event provided an opportunity for active exchanges of experiences and cross-border learning among the representatives of academic institutions from accross the NIS, and also introduced participants to new developments in the US, Canada, and Europe.
The workshop was the first event of its kind since 2004, when, under auspices of the NGO Legal Reform Initiative for Central and Eastern Europe, ICNL conducted anther NGO Law Teaching Workshop, which summed up the initial groundbreaking results of ICNL and USAID support to several universities throughout Europe and the NIS to establish NGO Law courses. The Kiev 2008 workshop demonstrated that four years after the prior program ended, and with no additional external financial support, many courses had not simply survived, but also improved. Those university initiatives are helping hundreds of law students throughout the NIS learn about civil society and how to provide qualified assistance to civil society organizations.
Supporting NGO Law courses has proven to be one of the most cost-effective and sustainable strategies to empower civil society in the region. With minimal cost and, in most instances, just informational support, ICNL can help professors: 1) introduce new NGO Law courses at academies and universities; 2) attract more students to existing NGO Law courses; 3) make courses more exciting, relevant, and sustainable; and, 4) remain motivated and competent to teach such courses at a high level. These courses also expand the base of knowledgeable lawyers who can assist civil society organizations to thrive and engage in effective advocacy. We expect that the Kiev Workshop will ultimately lead to the establishment of more NGO Law courses that in turn will increase the quality and quantity of professional services available to NGOs.