1-3 November 2018, Berlin, Germany

On November 1-3, 2018, the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum (CSF) held its third annual Legal Dialogue Symposium in Berlin. This year, the theme of the international conference was “Precarious U-Turn. How to protect our achievements in Rights and Justice?“. During a three-day intensive event, the participants discussed the most crucial issues and threats facing civic society across Europe and Russia today, and shared best practices on how the civic community can be more sustainable and resilient to external forces, especially in the context of Brexit and Russia’s potential leave from the Council of Europe.

Legal Dialogue Symposium gathered together more than 40 lawyers, journalists, experts and civil society activists coming from Belgium,Bulgaria, Estonia, Germany, France, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Poland, Russia and UK. Throughout various round tables, thematic discussions and brainstorming sessions, the participants shared their experience and ideas on successful strategies for civil society, evaluated the danger on the independence of lawyers today, analysed various international tools of support and capacity-building, and discussed the successes and problems of strategic litigation in the case of advancing human rights.

The Symposium also had an honour to welcome representatives from the German government, who shared their expertise with the participants and took time to listen to the stories of civil society activists. Oliver Sabel, from the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection, introduced and discussed the practices of state-appointed lawyers in Germany, while Rolf Moormann (Federal Foreign Office) talked about Germany’s efforts to support human rights and strengthen civil society in Russia.

The Symposium is organised within the framework of the CSF Legal Dialogue Programme. The aim of the Programme is to create formats for direct exchange of successful practices and ideas on the use of existing legal mechanisms and for the development of new legal approaches for citizens and civil societies in Russia and the EU.

Our organisation took part in the symposium for the first time and we are very grateful for this opportunity. The organisers have done a great job creating an intensive and fruitful program. This event helped us to find new partners, discuss many important human rights issues with colleagues from other countries and outline the directions for the development in this sphere.
Olga Podoplelova, 'Institute of Law and Public Policy', Russia
It was a very interesting meeting and very valuable for me and the PILP. I met so many interesting people and learned a lot about the Russian context and human rights issues across Europe, thank you for that opportunity. For me personally it was a great pleasure sharing our ideas and work on strategic litigation. Thank you again for all your help and patience! I think the Forum was very well organized, so my compliments for that!
Marjolein Kujiers, 'Public Interest Litigation Network', Netherlands
Thank you so much for inviting TrustLaw along to the symposium. It was a hugely valuable experience and I have built a few relationships where I think we will pursue joint projects together. It was a wonderfully organised event and we would love to be included in future events!
Lauren Meyer, 'TrustLaw', UK
Thank-you so much for hosting such a warm and thought provoking symposium. I really enjoyed myself and learned a lot; especially on the surprisingly similarities between the UK and Russia. Congratulations on putting together such a great event and thank you again for inviting me.
Meghan Campbell, 'Oxford Human Rights Hub', UK
Thank you for the invitation to the Legal Dialogue Symposium. I thought it was a very interesting, interactive program and event and it was very valuable for me to represent Lawyers for Lawyers during this meeting!
Sophie de Graaf, 'Lawyers for Lawyers', Netherlands
I was very happy to translate for people who are doing important things in this world!
Vladimir Balakhonov, Translator, Germany