UHHRU lawyer Daria Svyrydova: “The way to change the situation for the better is education and awareness-raising”

Tamara Martseniuk prepared a new interview from the series “Women Human Rights Defenders, Who Change Ukraine.” Lawyer Daria Svyrydova answered the questions about human rights education, Ukrainian human rights movement and gender perspective.

– Please share your history of involvement in the human rights movement in Ukraine. Why did you decide to work in this field?

– If I’m not mistaken, in 2008 I got accepted to one of the first educational events of the Ukraine-wide program “We Understand Human Rights”. Information and, most importantly, the values, we were talking about with experts and members of several days, to some extent inspired me and not let me go until now. Since I together with colleagues founded the NGO in Yalta, were engaged in education in human rights in the region.

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And it became quite impossible to stay out of the human rights movement since the early occupation of Crimea and the war in the East and because of numerous human rights violations, which the war led to…

– Where have you got education and knowledge of human rights?

– When I received education of a lawyer, but mainly in the field of non-formal education: the program “We Understand Human Rights”, programmes of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights (Warsaw), the Council of Europe and others. Also I received experience and knowledge as a practical field worker.

– What is your area of focus in the field of human rights?

– Currently, there are two main areas: legal protection of victims of human rights violations in the occupied territories and education in the field of human rights. Since 2012, I am a coordinator of UHHRU educational programs for lawyers and attorneys, being implemented under the programme “We Understand Human Rights”, which once had also “infected” me by human rights…

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During this time, along with the excellent team of experts for the first time in Ukraine, we implemented a major international educational program of the Network of Human Rights Houses “International Law for the Protection of the Public Interest. Distance learning for attorneys and lawyers of human rights”[1]. The program was implemented simultaneously in five countries and had hundreds of graduates (attorneys, lawyers, and human rights defenders), creating a large network of highly motivated professionals who protect and promote human rights standards in their countries.

Also I proud that we have had the first Ukrainian training course. Since 2017, the course “Human Rights Standards in the Practice of Lawyers and Judges”[2], which, let’s say, is such a “long-awaited child” and the result of long work and experience that have come into our team over the years of development and implementation of various educational programs for lawyers.

Generally, I am sure that education is a kind of key to solving many problems of human rights, and strategically – perhaps the main thing.

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– Did you work with the theme of women’s rights?

– Yes, I did. At the University, I dedicated a lot of time to research in the field of gender and rights, the role of women in politics at the regional level.

– In your opinion, what are the greatest successes of the human rights movement in Ukraine?

– That it is … professional and motivated. You especially feel how much our human rights movement affects the changes in the country, respect for fundamental human rights and freedoms, when sadly make comparisons with the situations in neighbouring countries. There is a feeling that the Ukrainian Human Rights Movement could be one of the flagships for the protection of property rights in the region.

– What are challenges of the modern human rights movement in Ukraine?

– War. Today this is a challenge and a test for us all. The willingness of people to give their rights in exchange for security and the temptation to use this power.

The challenge is the fact that the human rights movement has to become clearer to the public, to learn to talk about the values ​​of human rights and its operations using simple and clear messages…

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– In your opinion, is it enough attention paid to gender issue by the human rights movement?

– It is hard to say, when you are mostly among people who share your values. Perhaps, there is enough attention, but is it enough done in order to convey important messages to the public, every individual? Unfortunately, so far most people in the country do not see the problem in gender topics, consider it farfetched .

– Gender-based violence is a serious problem, particularly in Ukraine. In your opinion, what should be done to improve the situation?

– As I have already mentioned above, the way to change the situation for the better is education and awareness-raising.

– What or who inspires you the most in your human rights work?

– People. And striving for a world, in which all share the values ​​of human rights. Perhaps this is an utopia or selfishness.




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