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Fighting corruption by touch, or why Ukraine still does not have an Anticorruption Strategy for 2018-2020

Prevention of corruption /
Practice Preventing and Combating Corruption

The main priorities of the state anticorruption policy in Ukraine should be defined in a special regulatory act – the Anticorruption Strategy.

The main priorities of the state anticorruption policy in Ukraine should be defined in a special regulatory act – the Anticorruption Strategy.

This is an important document for combating corruption in Ukraine, as it defines the main priorities of the state anticorruption policy for a certain period and is the only basis for the elaboration of a national action plan for the prevention of corruption – the State Program for the implementation of the Anticorruption Strategy.

Unlike the Anticorruption Strategy, such a program contains specific actions for solving local problems and achieving the ultimate goal, timing of their implementation and responsible bodies. Moreover, the State Program is a basic document for the development of anticorruption programs for each state body, local government authority and other institutions.

The validity of previous Anticorruption Strategy and the State Program for its implementation expired in December 2017, therefore Ukraine should have started the new 2018 year with new editions of these documents.

For over six months, in Ukraine there is no basic strategic document in the area of prevention of corruption. Therefore, the activities of anticorruption bodies are unbalanced and inefficient, while other state bodies and local self-government authorities carry out those anticorruption measures, which they intuitively consider expedient, or just do nothing.

How the National Agency for the Corruption Prevention (NACP) was elaborating the draft Anticorruption Strategy for 2018-2020

NACP is the responsible body for the development of the Anticorruption Strategy: it analyses the status of prevention and counteraction of corruption in the state, drafts the Anticorruption strategy and state program for its implementation.

The State Program for the implementation of the previous strategy set out in detail the process and timing of the preparation of the new Anticorruption Strategy: before June 2017, the NACP had to analyse the state of corruption in Ukraine, the results of the implementation of the previous strategy and the program for its implementation; then by September of the same year it was supposed to prepare a draft of the new Anticorruption Strategy, discuss it with the public and conduct an international expertise of the draft. By the end of 2017, the Parliament had to adopt a new Anticorruption strategy.

Contrary to this, the NACP finalised the study of the state of corruption in Ukraine only in September 2017, and the evaluation of the implementation of the previous Anticorruption Strategy and analysis of corruption risks was not done by that time at all. Was the international expertise of the draft new Anticorruption strategy carried out? This is unknown.

Nevertheless, already on September 29, 2017, 10 days after the generalisation of the results of the study of the state of corruption in Ukraine, the NACP approved the draft Law “On the Anticorruption Strategy for 2018-2020”.

There were no public discussions or expert discussions on the content of this document. The NACP did not even publish the draft Anticorruption Strategy for 2018-2020 on its own official website.

The document developed by the Agency for the first time was received as an e-mail attachment by several non-governmental organisations that were invited to the presentation of a seemingly finalised draft Anticorruption Strategy for 2018-2020. And public experts learned about the existence of a working group on the development of this document already during the presentation of its draft on October 20, 2017.

After reviewing the draft Anticorruption Strategy for 2018-2020, the experts came to the conclusion that the Anticorruption Strategy in this version is not able to ensure the success of the implementation of anticorruption reform in Ukraine.

For this reason, on October 13, 2017, the CPLR experts sent to the NACP a Conclusion with comments and suggestions: how to systematically finalise the Anticorruption Strategy.

As a result of the analysis of the draft strategy, experts of several international technical assistance projects prepared a Joint Expert Opinion, which was forwarded to the NACP and the Government.

Other organisations also sent their comments and suggestions to the NACP. International Foundation for Election Systems (IFES) sent its proposals as regards the reform of political finance system. Last time these proposals were announced in the Electorial Bulletin No. 62 of June 20, 2018.

Unfortunately, the NACP took into account the least important comments and sent the draft poor-quality document for approval to the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine (CM).

Lethargical sleep of the Government

Having received the draft Anticorruption Strategy in early November 2017, the Government allegedly forgot about it and did nothing to improve the document within six months and did not submit a respective draft law to the Parliament. There, the strategy could be refined within the framework of the profile committee.

The Government ignored addresses and suggestions of the expert and public environment regarding the creation of a special working group to finalise this document.

Only on April 25, 2018, the CM approved this document actually in its original and poor-quality form, and the next day, it was submitted to the Parliament (Verkhovna Rada).

Ping-pong from the Parliament

On May 22, 2018, one month after receiving, the Parliament returned to the Government the draft law “On the Anticorruption Strategy for 2018-2020” for revision, based on the critical conclusions of the profile committee and the Main Scientific and Expert Department of Parliament. The absolute majority of parliamentary experts’ remarks of May 11 and 16, 2018 coincided with the comments made by the CPLR experts in its opinion of October 13, 2017.

Is the decision of the Verkhovna Rada strategically correct? It is difficult to determine because it has returned to the Government “for refinement” a draft document, which was not developed and should not have been developed by the Government. It is likely that the Government will return this draft for finalisation back to the NACP in the same manner …

If this happens, then one can not hope that in 2018, at least some Anticorruption Strategy will be in effect in Ukraine.

What to do?

In order to break this “circle of irresponsibility”, it is necessary to:

1. Immediately establish an interagency working group (NACP – Government – Parliament) on the development of a fundamentally new Anticorruption Strategy for 2018-2020, including:

  • NACP specialists (including the head of the Agency);
  • representatives of the Government and each of the ministries, other CEBs, the Council of Judges of Ukraine;
  • representatives of the Prosecutor’s Office, the National Police, the National Anticorruption Bureau of Ukraine;
  • representatives of the Committee of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine on the Prevention and Combating Corruption;
  • international and domestic experts on the formation and implementation of anticorruption policy of the state.

2. Develop a draft of the next Anticorruption Strategy for 2018-2020. It should be the result of a comprehensive analysis of the current situation with corruption, be based on a fundamental analysis of past efforts, be consistent with pan-European tendencies in the area of combating corruption and take into account the positive anticorruption experience of foreign countries. It is advisable to use comments and suggestions of domestic and international experts that were already made.

Corruption in Ukraine is more of a political and socio-economic problem, and therefore one can not expect that it will be overcome by specially authorised anticorruption actors (the National Anticorruption Bureau of Ukraine, the Specialised Anticorruption Prosecutor’s Office and the Supreme Anticorruption Court) or that only educational and informational measures will help. Each state body, local self-government body, political party and public organisation must carry out a series of anti-corruption measures.

3. Immediately after finalisation of the draft Anticorruption Strategy for 2018-2020, it should be made public on all possible resources, and above all on the NACP website. Public discussion is mandatory.

4. Conduct an international expert evaluation of the draft Anticorruption Strategy.

5. Agree the draft with the Government and submit it to the Parliament as a document approved by the Verkhovna Rada resolution, not by a special law.

The whole process should be completed no later than October 2018, and this is quite feasible.

Authors: Dmytro Kalmykov, Anton Marchuk, Mykola Khavroniuk (Centre of Policy and Legal Reform)
Special for Blogactiv