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What prevents Ukraine’s system of public consultations in the central executive body policy-making process from working as it should?


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December 12, 2012
Ivan Ratushniak

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What prevents Ukraine’s system of public consultations in the central executive body policy-making process from working as it should?

  1. 1. What prevents Ukraine’s system of public consultations in the centralexecutive body policy-making process from working as it should? December 12, 2012 Ivan Ratushniak
  2. 2. Plenty has been done toinstitute public consultationsin Ukraine
  3. 3. Regulatory environmentc The principles and basis for state policy have been defined and legislated. The legislative basis and mechanisms for consultations are in place.A Procedure for holding public consultationsrelated to the formation and execution of statepolicy has been approved.
  4. 4. Organization: Primary responsibility (1) Responsibility for holding public consultations: Council of Oblast and MunicipalCentral Executive Ministers of (Kyiv/Sevastopol) Bodies (CEBs) Crimea State Admins Subunits
  5. 5. Organization: Auxiliary support (2)CEBs and local executive bodies (LEBs) now have advisory civiccouncils attached to them that:– coordinate effective interaction between executive bodies and the public;– bring public opinion into play in the formation and execution of state policy. In practice, CEBs and LEBs have begun to post draft legislation and regulations on their official sites.
  6. 6. What does the government say? (1)Presidential Decree №212 “On the Strategy of state policy to foster thedevelopment of civil society in Ukraine” dated March 24, 2012, notes:– “The work of CEBs and LEBs continues to be opaque, closed and excessively bureaucratic rather than moving towards effective dialog with civil society.”– “The mechanisms for civil society to be engaged in the process of formulating and executing state policy are not being properly used.”– “Positive instances of effective cooperation between CEBs, LEBs and civil society institutions are the exception rather than the rule.”
  7. 7. What does the government say? (2)The President continues to emphasize the importance of engagingcivil society in the policy-making process. During a meeting with student leaders on November 14, 2012, the President stated, “When reforms directly affect voters, it’s very important for voters to understand why they are taking place.” Viktor Yanukovych
  8. 8. How is it that, given all the attentionto democratic development on thepart of those in power, civil society inUkraine remains uninformed, unheard,and unsatisfied?
  9. 9. The problems (1)“Need to include civil society in the process” remainsmore declarative than actual: – In practice, CEBs and LEBs do not follow the Cabinet Regulation or the Procedure for holding consultations. – As a rule, the consultation process comes down to merely publishing draft legislation and regulations. – The democratic standards of public participation are simply ignored.
  10. 10. The problems (2)The institutional capacity of CEBs and LEBsmakes it difficult to hold high-qualityconsultations:– Sub-units of CEBs and LEBs responsible for interacting with civil society lack the necessary knowledge and skills.– The staffing of such sub-units is frequently too small.
  11. 11. The problems (3)Neither the Law “On central executive bodies” nor thestandard provisions regarding ministries and CEBsdefine the functions of these bodies with regard toholding public consultations. As a result, such functions are also missing in the provisions on sub- units attached to the administrations of these bodies and in actual job descriptions.
  12. 12. The problems (4)Oversight, as a means of upholding legislation on engagingcivil society, is ignored.Officials, whose powers include calling to task thoseresponsible for violations, follow the law at their owndiscretion: if they feel like it, they respond; if they don’tfeel like it, they don’t. So public consultations dependdirectly on their will and whims.Such officials are not answerable to anybody for theirbiased actions and thus go unpunished.
  13. 13. The problems (5)The law does not specify responsibility andpenalties for such direct violations as failure tofollow the procedure for holding publicconsultations.
  14. 14. The problems (6)cThe public consultation process is not properly regulated.Provisions in individual laws only partly regulate thisinstitutions:– The law only extends the requirement to hold public consultations to the Cabinet of Ministers, CEBs, LEBs and local governments.– There is no requirement whatsoever to hold public consultations when legislation is being drafted by National Deputies of Ukraine as a legislative initiative or in the Law “On the Regulation of the Verkhovna Rada.”– Nor is the President bound to hold consultations when drafting decrees and other legal acts: Presidential Decree №970 dated November 15, 2006, allows this requirement to be applied selectively.
  15. 15. The problems (7)Civil society institutions are:– overly passive in exercising their rights and defending their interests in the policy- making process;– not making use of existing levers of influence on the government.
  16. 16. What steps might bring hope?1. Civil society needs to pressure the government to move from declarative to real actions in terms of public consultations.2. The institutional capacity of government bodies to hold public consultations needs to be improved.3. A basic law needs to be adopted that will: – set the minimal standards, mechanisms and procedures for public participation based on the existing Procedure for public consultations; – be binding on all government agencies, without exception, including the President of Ukraine and VR Deputies. – establish the specific violations for which specific officials will be held accountable.1. A system of independent state oversight needs to be set up that would automatically penalize officials for inaction in terms of holding public consultations.
  17. 17. Recommendations to civil society and donors (1)Demand that the Government provide atransparent institutional chart of the executors anda chart of state oversight for holding publicconsultations.Demand that the President and Government draftand incorporate changes to the provisions on CEBsand individual job descriptions to make itmandatory to hold public consultations.
  18. 18. Recommendations to civil society and donors (2)Demand that the Verkhovna Rada adopt a basic lawthat properly and fully regulates public consultations.Demand that the Government hold responsible allofficials who fail to follow the procedure on holdingpublic consultations.Broadly disseminate current legislative and regulatorydocuments on public consultations and demand thatgovernment bodies uphold them.