Despite Recent Legislative Initiatives Ukraine Needs a Comprehensive Strategy to Combat Endemic Corruption
On April 20th TORO Creative Union (Transparency International National Contact in Ukraine) and the Agency for Legislative Initiatives (Kyiv) released the findings of the 2010 National Integrity Systems report. The study was conducted with the methodological support of the Transparency International Secretariat (Berlin).
The National Integrity System (NIS) is a comprehensive independent assessment of thirteen key pillars of Ukrainian society which are responsible for good governance and counteracting corruption. The pillars include: Legislature, Executive, Judiciary, Public Sector, Law Enforcement Agencies, Electoral Management Body, Ombudsman, Supreme Audit Institution, Anti-Corruption Agencies, Political Parties, Media, Civil Society Organisations, and Business.Each pillar is evaluated on its capacity to perform anti-corruption activities, its own systems of internal accountability, and the role it plays in promoting good governance.
The research for the 2010 Ukraine NIS was conducted by TORO Creative Union according to methodology developed by Transparency International. The research took place in Ukraine between May and December, 2010.
The report shows that despite government proclamations and some legislative initiatives, Ukraine is unable to fight corruption in an effective manner. While all thirteen pillars were determined to be insufficiently strong, political parties, business and the public sector were deemed the weakest institutions. The overall weakness of the Ukrainian NIS is attributed to four key factors:
- Lack of Financial and Human Resources: The capacity of institutions to function effectively is undermined by limited financing and poor human resource management.
- Imperfect Legal Framework: Institutions are weakened by the absence of updated/necessary laws and loopholes in existing legislation.
- Limited Enforcement: Institutions lack initiative to improve practices and poorly enforce existing legal provisions.
- Negative Interactions Across the Pillars: Negative interaction between institutions leads to redundancy and diminishes accountability.
The one bright spot was the administration of the Supreme Audit Institution. While still failing to raise the entire Ukrainian ‘System’ the SAI did out perform all other institutions. The success of the SAI is attributed to its sufficient resources, internal drive to promote transparency despite lacking legal frameworks, and close relationships with similar organizations in other countries.
Areas in Need of Immediate Anti-Corruption Reform
Area of Concern: Dependence of political parties, which play a key role in forming the legislature and the executive, on private funding.
Recommendation: Implement comprehensive legislation regulating the funding of political parties and electoral campaigns. Reforms should be based on the provisions set forth by the Council of Europe’s ``Recommendation 2003 (4) on Common Rules against Corruption in the Funding of Political Parties and Electoral Campaigns``.
Area of Concern: Lack of democratic decision-making within political parties and limited accountability of elected officials.
Recommendation: Introduce electoral systems, in parliamentary and local elections, which would allow citizens to vote for individual candidates on the party lists (e.g. proportional system with open or semi-open lists of candidates).
Area of Concern: Law enforcement agencies lack independence and have limited authority to initiate the prosecution of corruption.
Recommendations: Amend the Constitution to enhance independence of the prosecution service in line with European standards. Adopt the new version of the Law on Prosecution Service, which would establish objective and merit-based criteria for selection and promotion of prosecutors. Provide prosecution service with clear mandate to initiate criminal investigations and prosecutions related to corruption.
Area of Concern: Politically dependent judiciary lacks ability to defend rule of law and effectively prosecute corruption.
Recommendations: Bring provisions pertaining to appointment and dismissal of judges, and composition of the High Council of Justice in line with the European standards.
Area of Concern: Administrative services delivered by public sector are of poor quality. Independence of the public sector is not protected in law or practice.
Recommendation: Provide clear delineation between political and professional public servants, ensure professionalism, and protect against political interference and arbitrary discharge/disciplinary sanctions. Introduce transparent and merit-based recruitment and remuneration scheme for public servants.
Area of Concern: Integrity and accountability of public administration is not codified in law, the Parliament
Recommendation: Adopt law on prevention, detection and regulation of conflict of interests. Adopt law on asset and financial declaration by public servants. Expand general code of conduct for public servants. Provide for whistleblower protection. Develop their internal codes of ethics.
Transparency International, having observed corruption trends in Ukraine for the past 12 years, has repeatedly expressed concerns over the critical situation. The 2010 Corruption Perception Index shows that corruption remains a grave problem in Ukraine. Ukraine received a score of 2.4 (out of 10).
Despite the concern of the international community, CSOs and Ukrainian citizens the government’s reaction in recent years has been uneven. In 2010, the President of Ukraine created the National Anti-Corruption Committee, initiated the administrative reform and introduced to the Parliament the draft law “On the Principles of Preventing and Combating Corruption in Ukraine". The Parliament passed the laws. On the other hand, the same Parliament in 2010 abolished an anti-corruption "package" of laws, and in 2011 the Cabinet of Ministers eliminated the position of Government Commissioner in Anti-Corruption Policy. More recently (April 7, 2011), the Parliament of Ukraine adopted an overdue package of anti-corruption laws. However, the NIS survey has shown that effective implementation of this law, or earlier passed laws, are not possible in the absence of comprehensive anti-corruption reforms aimed at individual institutions.
In general, the fight against corruption in Ukraine is often reduced to sound bites. Work on systemic reform of state institutions is carried out with deliberate slowness. There is a general feeling that the actions of the government are more an imitation of action, rather than a true desire to implement fundamental reform.
More information on recommendations and full results of the research are available at the link http://www.toro.org.ua/en/nis/
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