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  • Writer's pictureInternational Lawyers Project

Promoting Responsible Exit of Business for Ukraine

The International Lawyers Project, in partnership with the ILP International Media Working Group – Barbara Swann, Korieh Duodo, and James McQueeny, conducted a libel and defamation training workshop centred on the global best practices and legal standards for the B4Ukraine Coalition.

Established in July 2022, the B4Ukraine Coalition emerged in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Together with tens of civil society organisations spanning Europe, Asia, and Africa, they joined efforts and remained united by a common purpose – to block access to the economic and financial resources enabling Russian aggression.

Driven with the mission to influence multinational companies to responsibly exit from the Russian market, the Coalition takes advantage of online and social media platforms to call businesses and governments to action and hold companies accountable by mapping, documenting, and publishing corporate ties to the Russian regime.

On 2 May 2023, members of the Coalition participated in the training workshop aimed to mitigate libel and defamation-related risks and liabilities in publishing content responsibly.

Barbara Swann laid out the rationale for mitigating and managing legal risks by better understanding the limitations on the right to freedom of expression. To operate successfully and sustainably especially during wartime, one crucial factor is the ability to stray away from litigation, specifically those arising from Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP) which intimidate journalists and activists, silence potential whistleblowers, drain publishers’ financial resources, and stop vital anti-corruption and humanitarian work worldwide.

Korieh Doudu presented the legal risks in media law by providing substantive insights on the key elements and defences to defamation, privacy and confidentiality, and Intellectual Property rights, while also giving practical tips on public interest journalism. Through practical examples, participants were guided on establishing potential defamatory meanings in published material and equipping them with the knowledge on the legal defences available to them.

In optimising communication strategies across various media platforms, James McQueeny led the discussion on the current communication realities in Ukraine. Highlighting the challenges in communication such as broadcast interruptions, censorship, and lagging speeds of communication, discussions revolved around how communication strategies have evolved in response to the unique challenges during wartime.

With the devastating effects of the Russian invasion of Ukraine inflicting inevitable limitations on the freedom of speech and expression, the Coalition members valued the linkage between effectively communicating their mission while publishing content responsibly in compliance with international laws and standards. ILP supports civil society through these capacity building trainings, among others, in the continued efforts to defend civic space towards economic justice.


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