UN and Civil Society: Deepening Dialogue for Accelerating Democratic Development

13 April 2007, KYIV. A consultative meeting with several leading democratic civil society and non-governmental organizations was held at United Nations House in Kyiv today, to review the current situation in country and identify further efforts needed for consolidating democracy.

UN and Civil Society: Deepening Dialogue for Accelerating Democratic Development

13 April 2007, KYIV. A consultative meeting with several leading democratic civil society and non-governmental organizations was held at United Nations House in Kyiv today, to review the current situation in country and identify further efforts needed for consolidating democracy.

UN and Civil Society: Deepening Dialogue for Accelerating Democratic Development

A consultative meeting with several leading democratic civil society and non-governmental organizations was held at United Nations House in Kyiv today, to review the current situation in country and identify further efforts needed for consolidating democracy. Chairing the meeting, the UN Resident Coordinator in Ukraine, Mr. Francis O’Donnell, briefed on recent initiatives and presented the UN’s Policy Recommendations for consideration by State Authorities of Ukraine, that was forwarded to the President, the Prime Minister, and the Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada on 31 January. He also presented the recent statement on basic principles and rights issued by the UN Country Team for overcoming current political tensions in Ukraine.

The civil society representatives expressed their support for the UN recommendations, especially for broad public participation in constitutional reforms and legislative and policy processes and a deepening of democratic practices. These should include clear limits on the respective prerogatives of President, Government, and the Verkhova Rada, so that a better division of the branches of state power prevails, with checks and balances. Sanctions also need to be clearly enunciated for violations of the Constitution. In order to avoid conflict of interest, members of a possible Constitutonal Commission or Assembly be disqualified from public office for a period of 5-10 years. For the future, it was also proposed that all political party candidates for parliament be identified prior to elections, and clearly represent local constituencies.

The participants expressed frustration with the inadequacy of public policy dialogues, described as “decorative but not real”, and called for national institutions and also political parties to engage more with local communities and civic groups. They called for an end to “secret decrees” and for greater transparency on matters of public policy, and clear linkage between public policy dialogue and actual policy decision-making. The need for more public disclosure of information on the budget and sectoral issues including energy, health, and public procurement was also raised. The use of information technology and the internet as instruments for disclosure and public consultation was also discussed.

In the health field, unequal access was described with some citizens privileged by special hospitals for particular institutions, funded by the taxpayer, but which excluded others. They called for an end to such cases of social inequity, and for legislation to protect patient rights and equal access for all. A new generation of public health managers is needed, versed in public accountability. The problem of HIV/AIDS was also raised, and the need for the state budget to provide fully for ARV (anti-retro-viral) treatment from 2008 onwards, as external sources will no longer provide for this. Civil service reform was also called for, including especially professionalization. In the area of land administration, corruption at local level was identified as a continuing problem.

The participants of today consultations included the representatives of International Center for Policy Studies, International Renaissance Foundation, CASE Center for Social and Economic Research, European Movement Ukraine, Institute of Reforms, All-Ukrainian Civic Association "Successful Ukraine", International HIV/AIDS Alliance in Ukraine, Association of Ukrainian Cites and Communities, Ukraine Citizen Action Network (UCAN), The Ukrainian Center for Economic and political Studies named after Oleksander Razumkov, Institute for Economic Research and Policy Consulting.

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For further information, please contact, UN Communications Officer Ms. Veronika Vashchenko at e-mail: veronika.vashchenko@un.org.ua , tel: (+38 044) 453-9363, 254-0035