Why Ukraine can do it

Why Ukraine can do it

This piece originally appeared on the Open Government Institute website

With Prime Minister of Ukraine, Mr. Zubko, during the IRM Launch in March 2016, Kyiv.

I live few hundreds kilometers away from Kiev, Ukraine and this country is indeed close to my heart from different perspectives and various reasons! It is always a great pleasure to take the drive from Chisinau all the way to Kiev and enjoy the beauty of this country. However, the aim of this post is not about this …

While not everyone on this Planet knows that Ukraine is at war, that Russia has annexed the Crimean peninsula and is conducting military operations in the Eastern part of the country, fewer probably know that this war has taken, as per UN data,  the lives of more than 10000 people of this country. But again, the post is not about all these.

It is about how a country at war managed to stand up several times, wipe all the tears away, leave the frustrations behind, proudly look into its future and continue working on its ambitious reforms, including the ones aiming at bringing more transparency, accountability, innovation into the lives of the Ukrainian people.

Ukraine, like Moldova, joined the Open Government Partnership back in 2011. There have been a lot of changes and political ‘turbulence’ taking place in the Ukrainian Government since then, but Ukraine managed to keep up with its commitments around Open Government Agenda. And there are a number of reasons for that:

  • In the times of crisis, people either continue struggling and being divided; or they can become more united, stronger and use their power to create more, rebuild what was destroyed and stay together against any potential challenges or threats;
  • Success is driven by people who have vision;
  • Success is driven by consensus building, by “building bridges”, by negotiation, by bringing together those who are mandated with a specific agenda, as well as those who care, have the expertise, have the desire to move things forward. And this is not because they are expecting recognition, or fame, but simply because things they do as part of their professional life is something they have at heart;
  • Partnerships between different organizations help consolidate, capacitate, motivate, and bring innovation into the play; helps build sustainable initiatives that in the end benefit the lives of the millions in the country.

Ukrainian Government, together with its civil society partners, among which Transparency International Ukraine, managed to review recently the degree to which Ukraine’s Open Government related commitments were implemented –http://ti-ukraine.org/en/news/monitoryng-deklaraciy/media/6187.html(link is external)

It is overwhelming to learn that OGP related initiatives are being recognizes by the Ukrainian Government as “one of the most clear, open, and democratic mechanisms for interaction between governmental structures and civil society in Ukraine”. It is impressive to learn that among the commitments already implemented as part of the most recent National Action Plan (2014-2015) are, among many:

  • The development of a web portal for income, asset, and expenditure declarations of public officials has been started;
  • Amendments to the law of Ukraine On Citizens’ Appeals, the mechanism of electronic petitions has been implemented;
  • Change of procedures for interactions between the government and civil society;
  • Compliance with EITI.

In addition to the above, it is important to mention that back in May 2016, in London, the World Procurement Awards (WPA) has distinguished Ukrainian e-procurement system Prozorro with its Public Sector Award. It was for the first time when the Ukrainian-developed technical innovation for public sector has received worldwide recognition.

And this is not the only successful experience of Ukraine when it comes to the Open Government Agenda:

A very big decision was made by the Ukrainian Parliament back in 2015, passing the law “On the access to the archives of repressive organs of the communist and totalitarian regime of 1917-1991.” Thus, all documents relating to repression and human rights violations will be transferred to the state archive of the Ukrainian Institute of National Memory. Anyone who wishes to access them will be able to do so, including Russian historians. For us, in Moldova, achieving something like this is almost impossible now and in the near future.

When looking into the National Action Plan – it was for the first time that government documents included a section entitled „partners”.  This is an example of something that can gradually change the old paradigms and approaches when it comes to collaboration among government and civil society.

During my meetings back in March 2016, in Kiev, I learned from my colleagues in civil society about the six ongoing thematic working groups that have been established with co-heads from civil society and the government. And they might not be the perfect working groups, and they migth face some challenges when it comes to operations, resources, coordination – still, establishing these groups and the interest to accomplish specific tasks via these groups is already a succes.

A lot is still to come ahead for Ukraine and a lot of work to still be done. And even if for many years now, Ukraine’s government failed to implement effective reforms aimed to curb corruption in the country, and it was permanently receiving low scores in the key international corruption-related indexes, such as TI’s Corruption Perceptions Index, the Global Integrity Index, and the World Bank’s and World Economic Forum’s indicators, there is still hope …

Hope for a more open, transparent, citizen-friendly Government in Ukraine. Hope that regardless of the military war and an ongoing hybrid war with Russia, the Government will be able to face all the challenges, continue working hard on implementing more ambitious reforms, innovate and build trust! Citizens of Ukraine, need more than ever, a Government that is stable, able to resist any political turbulence (again, caused by the war), able to be accountable and responsible for its actions, able to serve its citizens and value the potential of the human capital it has …

Congratulations to the Government of Ukraine for participatory approaches when it comes to the elaboration of the new Action Plan on Open Government! Natalia Oksha(OGP Coordination Council Secretary and Deputy Director of the Department for Information and Public Relations at Secretariat of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine), together with her colleagues from civil society (TI in particular, with Olesya Arkhypska) and international community of partners and donors (among which UNDP – with Olena Ursu, Diana Zubko and Maksym Klyuchar behind; USAID, others) have managed to organize a co-creative process around the new plan. I remember fondly March 21st, 2016, in Kiev, during which IRM report was presented. It was then when everyone could share his/her thoughts about what’s next for Ukraine in the new Action Plan. The results of these processes are ought to be successful in long run!

And this was just a new beginning of new processes around good governance, citizen-engagement, accountability and transparency!

These are the best tools ever against any war!

Because Ukraine can do it!!!

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