The Tenth Seminar of “Justice, Law and Society”: Reflection on the Legal Community’s Role in Overcoming Wartime Challenges

War demands quick decisions and actions, as people’s lives depend on them. However, speed in governance can yield immediate results and have negative consequences in the long term. Core constitutional values – democracy, justice, human rights, and the rule of law – help compensate for and rectify potential mistakes. During wartime, these values should remain at the center of leaders’ attention and be subject to reassessment in the current situation.

From July 12 to 16, the Aspen Institute Kyiv, with the support of OSCE Projects in Ukraine, held the tenth seminar, “Justice, Law and Society,” in the Zakarpattia region. The event brought together 23 participants, including legal professionals, public administration, human rights activities, journalists, and researchers.

“Our joint efforts – by the Aspen Institute Kyiv and the OSCE – create a platform for a dialogue among leaders of the legal community, providing an opportunity to discuss the role and responsibility of those who lead, regarding the development of legal culture, legal awareness, and the challenges of wartime. This also creates space for building a just society in Ukraine,” noted Olena Fomina, Policy Program Director of the Aspen Institute Kyiv.

Over four days, through moderated dialogue, participants discussed fundamental ideas and concepts of legal philosophy, such as justice and law, rights and duties, and the essence of the state. Participants had the opportunity to reflect on the role and responsibility of leaders in developing legal culture, legal awareness, and the challenges of wartime.

“The dialogue on legal issues among leaders from different fields helps implement and spread good governance practices in all areas of public life. Such discussions become an impetus for the irreversibility of good governance. When you delve into the discussion of classical texts, which are the cornerstone of the democratic tradition, and engage in live communication with interesting people with whom you can later develop joint projects when you have the opportunity to reconsider your views, it is truly a life-changing experience,” remarked Dmytro Lukianov, Deputy Chairman of the High Council of Justice of Ukraine.

During the seminar, participants were invited to an interactive lecture titled “The Dilemma of Creon: Law and Society in Extreme Conditions,” conducted by Oleksandr Vodiannikov, Senior Project Officer of the OSCE Project Co-ordinator in Ukraine. They also discussed justice, law, and society with the Judge of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine, Vasyl Lemak.

Olena Fomina, Policy Program Director of the Aspen Institute Kyiv, coordinated the seminar.

Many thanks to the partners —  OSCE Projects in Ukraine — for their continuous support and to the participants for their contributions in dialogue.