A row of people at a desk with microphones

In Kyrgyzstan: “Justice is our goal, arbitration is our means”

06 May 2022 When a justice system is hampered by corruption, settling civil and commercial disputes through private arbitration offers an alternative to the courts, but change rarely comes easy. In common with its Central Asian neighbours, Kyrgyzstan inherited a Soviet-style judicial system. Corruption remains a big problem and changing the system is a long, difficult process. The […]
Ashgabat city scene

How data is essential for sustainable development in Turkmenistan

29 Apr 2022 Our Fellow Sofiya Yuvshanova is helping strengthen Turkmenistan’s national capacity to generate evidence for better monitoring of the UN sustainable development goals. The 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) are at the heart of the UN’s 2030 Agenda to end poverty and inequality, drive economic growth and tackle climate change. Turkmenistan was one of the first […]
Female war protestor stands alone with banner

No world leader has successfully fought alone against a united world

22 Apr 2022 Nurturing connections, support and understanding across borders should always be a priority for civilized societies, but in the face of the horror unleashed by Putin, it is also an act of resistance. And will be key to his defeat. Putin and his soldiers have no respect for the international rules of war and are trying […]
Aid package with a child's hand drawn card

Humanitarian mission in Ukraine: “Together we will win”

12 Apr 2022 Mykhaylo Nakhod, co-founder of civic movement Svidomi, based in Western Ukraine, turned his organisation into a volunteer humanitarian mission the moment war broke out. He and his staff had planned in advance what they would do in case of war, so when it started, they were quick to establish a volunteer centre at their base […]
A boy with handcuffs and hands over his face

Towards a justice system fit for children

08 Apr 2022 Globally, UNICEF estimates that 261,000 children are being detained in the justice system, evidence in itself that our societies and systems are failing our children – and we need reform. Usually children are held in detention for petty crimes, some have been coerced by adults and many are the victims of prejudice related to race, […]
Cambridge University flying the Ukrainian flag

Support the Ukrainian Global University

04 Apr 2022 Artem Shaipov, one of our Fellows in Ukraine, has helped launch the Ukrainian Global University (UGU) to support Ukrainian students and create a pool of educated people able to help rebuild the country after the war. As of 26 March, 733 education institutions have been damaged due to bombing and shelling, and 74 of them […]
Women in discussion round table

Challenges and opportunities to stand up for gender equality

01 Apr 2022 Women and girls in Central Asia still face deeply entrenched inequalities, according to a group of Fellows from the John Smith Trust network who met in Tashkent, Uzbekistan on 5-6 March. Sixteen Fellows – both women and men – from six countries in the region came together for an Ideas Exchange to discuss the most […]
Ukrainian soldier stands in rubble of a bombed school

Fellows in Ukraine fight hard for freedom and democracy

18 Mar 2022 Bearing witness to war is painful. None know that better than our Ukrainian Fellows right now, though our Fellows from elsewhere in the region are feeling the pain too, including those in Russia. At the John Smith Trust we usually spend our days helping build fairer, more sustainable and inclusive societies across the countries of […]
Little girl in a crowd holding woman's hand

The shelter project: helping internally displaced Ukrainians

10 Mar 2022 Since the war began Victor Liakh, one of our Ukrainian Fellows, has set up a shelter project for Ukrainians who’ve lost or fled their homes. They need funds now. Victor is president of the East Europe Foundation and working through its network of more than 500 local partner non-governmental organisations, it launched the shelter project […]

Statement on Ukraine from the John Smith Trust  

01 Mar 2022 The John Smith Trust is deeply concerned and saddened by the war in Ukraine, and these feelings are shared by John Smith Fellows across our network. We strongly condemn this violent aggression by Russia and support every effort to halt the unlawful attacks on Ukraine. Our immediate concern is the welfare of the Ukrainian people, […]
A man sitting at a desk wearing a suit

How digital technologies are transforming life in Ukraine  

18 Feb 2022 COVID-19 highlighted the importance of digital technologies in connecting people with each other and with essential public services. In Ukraine, Victor Liakh was well-placed to respond. As the COVID-19 pandemic restricted physical contact, people around the world turned to digital technologies to sustain many aspects of their daily lives. People went online to work, learn, […]

How can mentoring change gender biases in the Kyrgyz workplace?

11 Feb 2022 Women are underrepresented in careers in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) in many countries around the world. Kyrgyzstan is no exception, but Nazira Sheraly wants to change that. According to UNESCO, gender inequality persists in STEM professions on a global level. Only 30 percent of female students select STEM-related subjects at university and 28 […]
A woman and man planting seedlings in a forest

Protecting Georgia’s forests through sustainable rural development

04 Feb 2022 Forests play a vital role in regulating the world’s climate and preventing biodiversity loss. In Georgia, Nana Janashia is working with both the government and local communities to protect them. At the UN Climate Conference (COP26) in November, 141 countries signed a commitment to “halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030”. This […]

Tech training offers hope for Tajikistan’s unemployed youth

24 Jan 2022 With booming demographics in Tajikistan, few and far between job opportunities are fuelling migration and social problems. Komron Rakhmatullaev wants to change this through training young people in tech and digital skills. A lack of job opportunities in Tajikistan led to 1.6 million people – a quarter of the working population – to seek work […]
Man sitting at desk with a UNICEF flag

Azerbaijan prison reforms begin to tackle children’s rights

21 Jan 2022 Until recently, young offenders were treated in the same way as adults by Azerbaijan’s punitive judicial system. Legal reforms are gradually creating a more progressive system for offenders of all ages. Based on the punishment rather than the rehabilitation of offenders, Azerbaijan’s criminal justice system is a legacy of the Soviet era. It was customary […]
Two people wearing sports t-shirts and smiling

Putting sport at the centre of Russia’s health policies

14 Jan 2022 Russia is experiencing a health crisis, with high levels of heart disease being one cause of a declining population. But one man is on a mission to change this, through love of fitness. Russia’s population saw its largest ever peacetime decline in 2020. Although COVID-19 was the principal reason for this, even before the pandemic, […]
The top of a police car with it's blue light flashing

When police commit crimes, who holds them to account? 

02 Dec 2021 Recent killings – from George Floyd to Roman Bondarenko and many others – have highlighted global patterns of violence committed by police, shining a light on the need for greater police accountability.  “Who Polices the Police?” is a major report published this year and co-authored by Masha Lisitsyna, one of our Fellows from Kyrgyzstan. It explores how independent investigative agencies and prosecutorial departments around the […]

Serving the public and driving change in Moldova  

20 Oct 2021 When Moldova’s main pro-European party won a resounding victory in parliamentary elections in July 2021, several young candidates were among those elected to become MPs from the Party of Action and Solidarity (PAS) founded by Maia Sandu. One of those elected was JST Fellow Andrian Cheptonar (Moldova, 2018), an entrepreneur, e-governance enthusiast, former civil servant and proud father of two from Ungheni region in western Moldova.  “It’s an honour and a big responsibility on my shoulders to represent people in my constituency and build […]

Preparing young Kazakhs for the modern workplace

29 Sep 2021 As in much of the world, COVID-19 dramatically disrupted the education system in Kazakhstan, affecting young people’s opportunities and future job prospects. While many educators saw the transition to online learning as a temporary set-back, John Smith Trust Fellow Diana Tsoy (Kazakhstan, 2019) has used the challenging circumstances created by the pandemic to establish a forward-looking online training resource for her country’s young population. Alpharabius.kz is an online support resource for young people […]

Reforming policy-making in criminal justice in Armenia

22 Sep 2021 Armenia has been on a journey to reform its criminal justice system for the decade. Changes to the penitentiary system, and specifically the probation services, have been an important element of the reform process, as the country has taken steps towards a more effective system of rehabilitating offenders and stopping cycles of criminal behaviour. As Head […]