Ukraine: an urgent anti-corruption agenda
Despite the continuing political instability in Ukraine, civil society organisations are pressing the interim government to adopt a raft of anti-corruption measures to restore and bolster the rule of law as soon as possible.
The goal is to put in place a legal framework to end the alleged abuses of power that characterised the ousted regime of Victor Yanukovych and his inner circle, not least the use of public funds to finance a lavish lifestyle.
Working together, six organisations, including Transparency International Ukraine, have produced a road-map to reform. They are proposing changes to the constitution and the introduction of new laws to:
- strengthen the integrity and accountability in public sector
- ensure transparency of political party financing
- guarantee access to information
- ensure transparency and competitiveness in public procurement
- strengthen the state’s ability to investigate and prosecute corruption.
An anti-corruption strategy can be enhanced by having an independent coordinating body. That is why these organisations are calling for a national anti-corruption commission that is both independent and well-funded to implement and enforce anti-corruption laws.
Strengthening integrity and accountability
Transparency International advocates the use of asset declarations for politicians to avoid conflict of interest and to ensure they do not use their positions of power for private gain.
In the past, the political elite in Ukraine were able to hand out government contracts with little scrutiny. This earned the country the reputation as a kleptocracy, where there was impunity for those who were connected to the government.
Investigative journalists are still sifting through the evidence found on the estate of Yanukovych to document how it was possible to siphon off resources from the state for personal use.
Citizens can only hold their governments to account if they have access to the relevant information. That is why there need to be public registers of interests, including lists of who are the beneficial owners of private companies. This will allow civil society to find out who receives state funds and will highlight conflicts of interest, particularly in procurement.
The state spends millions of dollars of public funds with private contractors. These procurement contracts need to be publicly vetted to limit conflict of interest and ensure adequate competition in the bidding process.
The continued unrest and uncertainty in Ukraine and the conflict in Crimea and on its eastern borders with Russia will make it hard for any new government to follow through on a legislative reform agenda. Civil society is working to address the deficiencies in the current legal framework.
Transparency International Ukraine has partnered for this with the Center for Political and Legal Reforms, the Center for Political Study and Analysis, the Anticorruption Action Center, the Ukrainian Institute for Public Policy, and the Open Society Foundation.