March 9, 1998

Geonomics Institute of Middlebury College Aids Ukrainian Legal Reform Efforts With Community Connections Program

Is the development of democracy in the countries of the former Soviet Union possible without the enforcement of a rule of law?

Nine Ukrainian legal professionals donĂ­t think so. Throughout the month of March, they are thoroughly examining Vermont's legal and judicial systems. Armed with this knowledge, they will contribute to the design of a legal reform program in their home city of Dnepropetrovsk in southeastern Ukraine. Through the Community Connections program, which offers three-week internships designed and implemented by Geonomics Institute of Middlebury College, The Snelling Center for Government, and the Vermont-Karelia Rule of Law Project, the visitors will learn from their Vermont counterparts.

Internships and professional meetings will expose the Ukrainian visitors to the practice of commercial and criminal law, legal research, and case management. Vermont professionals will provide guidance in developing a code of ethics for the Ukrainian judicial system and its attorneys. The interns' daily participation in the democratic free-market economy of the United States reflects the program's goal to support the development of democracy in Ukraine and other countries of the former Soviet Union.

Prior to the internships, Community Connections participants will undergo intensive training at Middlebury's Geonomics Institute. The program also will offer the Ukrainians the chance to establish personal connections through homestays with Vermont families, and opportunities to engage in local cultural and community activities.

Vermont organizations providing internships during the legal program include Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Montpelier, Chittenden Bank of Burlington, Green Mountain Power of South Burlington, March & Associates law firm of Middlebury, Vermont Law School of South Royalton, Vermont Police Academy of Pittsford, and the Office of the Secretary of State of Vermont and Vermont Bar Association, both of Montpelier. The Ukrainians will spend a day at the United States Federal Court in Burlington and will attend the 41st annual midwinter meeting of the Vermont Bar Association.

Community Connections is a nationwide program sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the United States Information Agency. Vermont's program receives additional funding from the Middlebury College Geonomics Institute, The Snelling Center for Government, the Vermont-Karelia Rule of Law Project, Vermont businesses, private and government organizations, and individuals.

For more information on the Community Connections program, please contact Chris Beattie, program coordinator, at the Geonomics Institute of Middlebury College at 802-443-2300.