System of free legal aid in Ukraine demonstrates high level of resilience in war conditions — UNDP report

The free legal aid system in Ukraine has become more client-oriented and has ensured high-quality provision of essential legal services in crisis conditions

May 4, 2023
Photo credit: Oleksandr Ratushniak / UNDP in Ukraine

Kyiv, 4 May 2023 — The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Ukraine presented a report on the availability of legal aid in the context of martial law in the capital of Ukraine. Conducting a comprehensive study and preparing a report based on its results were possible because of generous support from the European Union and the Government of Denmark.

According to the report, the free legal aid system has demonstrated a high level of stability in the context of the war, and the bodies and organizations that provide legal services to the population quickly adapted to the new conditions and were able to ensure the proper quality of such services and client orientation. Thus, about 70 percent of respondents believe that since the beginning of the war, their opportunities to receive legal assistance have not reduced or have even increased.

The full-scale invasion by the Russian Federation of Ukraine gave rise to a large number of legal issues that required urgent solutions: from the status of internally displaced persons to the need for prompt responses to the requests of people affected by the war. This naturally led to an excessive workload for organizations and institutions that provide legal assistance in Ukraine, because demand for legal services has increased rapidly.

Jaco Cilliers, UNDP Resident Representative in Ukraine, emphasized that Ukraine’s system of free legal aid has demonstrated unprecedented stability and endurance. “We at UNDP are ready to make maximum efforts to ensure that everyone who needs legal help in Ukraine in these difficult times can get it in full, and that Ukraine’s justice system is working harmoniously and fairly,” he said. “Thanks to this study, we know how to achieve this.”

Xavier Camus, Head of the Good Governance and Rule of Law Section at the Delegation of the European Union to Ukraine, noted that despite Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine, free legal aid remained accessible for citizens who needed such help. “This study lays down very clear guidelines for the further development of the legal aid system in Ukraine and is a useful source of information for making decisions about its optimization and improvement, in order to increase the quality and availability of justice for all citizens,” he said.

The report is based on a comprehensive study prepared by a team of authors from Sotsio-inform, the Ukrainian Centre for Public Opinion Research, with assistance from UNDP Ukraine in the framework of the UN Recovery and Peacebuilding Programme (UN RPP), and with financial support from the European Union.

Experts from the Human Rights for Ukraine project — which is being implemented by UNDP Ukraine and financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark between 2019 and 2023 — were also involved in the study.


The UN RPP is being implemented by four United Nations agencies: UNDP, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

Eleven international partners support the Programme: the European Union (EU), the European Investment Bank (EIB), the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, and the governments of Canada, Denmark, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden and Switzerland.

Media inquiries: Yuliia Samus, UNDP Ukraine Head of Communications; e-mail: