Rule of law based local governance in Ukraine – ways forward

Over the past one and a half years FBA has been implementing the project Local Self-Government and the Rule of Law in Ukraine.  “Some of the major outcomes so far have been the networks created among local authorities and the increasing support for the importance of upholding the rule of law at the local and national level”, says project leader Shane Quinn.

The FBA’s project in Ukraine aims at strengthening the respect for the rule of law in the Ukrainian local administration. The FBA has developed an assessment tool that will be used in twelve Ukrainian towns and cities during the project period. The rule of law assessments conducted to date in six local administrations in the southern and western regions of Ukraine have included over 4500 people surveyed reflecting both civil servants’, as well as citizens’ perspectives. The assessments typically address sensitive and problematic services for example related to land and/or property rights.    

Among the core principles of the rule of law, particularly low scores have been recorded on the citizens’ right to appeal administrative decisions. This is partly due to the legal framework lacking the administrative procedure code that is still at the draft stage in Ukraine since 1998.

Adopting this code would have direct implications for individual rights by ensuring citizens’ participation in decision-making processes, thus increasing social legitimacy at the local level, said Viktor Tymoshchuk, Deputy Chairman of the Center for Political and Legal Reforms, during one of the project’s events in the Odesa oblast in June 2016.

The government’s current plan is to approve the law in 2018. There are however a set of measures that local self-government authorities can choose to implement themselves already at this stage. This could include providing clear guidelines on citizens’ right to be heard before administrative decisions are taken, explicit appeal procedures and transparent complaint review mechanisms.

To support the cities with such initiatives, the FBA project will proceed with the drafting of action plans to increase the respect and demand for the rule of law locally. Several roadmaps for more transparent service delivery and enhanced access to information have already been drafted together with the municipalities of Mykolaiv and Yuzhne in the Odesa region. 

Local self-government is a key actor in shaping the reform process and bolstering the grassroots structures. Yet, Ludmila Ceban, project officer, further emphasizes:
– One of the major challenges in Ukraine is creating demand at the local level for a more comprehensive approach to integrating rule of law principles into governance processes.

To reach out to the general public as well as important stakeholders, the project communicates through social media, workshops and other events. The project has an office in Kyiv, coordinating much of the activities in Ukraine, along with FBA’s implementing partners.

Photo: Ben Sutherland/Flickr

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