91 problems and 307 solutions: legal reforms roadmap for civil society in ukraine presented in kyiv

September 30, 2020

Ukraine’s public sector received a long-awaited vision, analytical, and policy document – the Legal Reforms Roadmap for Civil Society. The presentation of the final version of the Roadmap took place in Kyiv on September 30. 

Creation and development of the Legal Reforms Roadmap is a comprehensive approach to sector reform under the Ukraine Civil Society Sectoral Support Activity project implemented by Initiative Center to Support Social Action Ednannia (Ednannia) in partnership with the Ukrainian Center for Independent Political Research (UCIPR) and the Centre for Democracy and Rule of Law (CEDEM).

The Roadmap was presented by Volodymyr Sheihus, Executive Director of Initiative Center to Support Social Action “Ednannia,” Olesia Kholopik, Director of the Centre for Democracy and Rule of Law, and Maksym Latsyba, Head of the Civil Society Development Program of the Ukrainian Center for Independent Political Research. The event was also attended by Oleksandr Yarema, State Secretary of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, and Nataliia Oksha, Deputy Director of the Information and Public Relations Department of the Secretariat of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, who participated in the development of the Roadmap as experts and partners. Artem Konovalov, a CEDEM expert, was the event moderator.

The first and only document of this kind brought together more than 150 civil society organizations from all over Ukraine, 250 experts who have worked together on the development over the past six months. 

“Public activists, volunteers, philanthropists are saving people in situations where the state lacks resources, support projects that are not interesting for business. Civil society organizations are now becoming partners for the state and the people, increasing their power and self-sufficiency. However, their activities do not always depend on them. There is a certain environment, including a legal environment, that we need to improve to enable organizations to carry out their missions more effectively,” said Volodymyr Sheihus, Executive Director of ICSSA “Ednannia.”

As a result, the co-authors managed to create a clear and relevant reform agenda for civil society in Ukraine, which contains a detailed description of the problems, difficulties, and obstacles faced by the public sector and offers a set of steps to solve these problems. 

“The consortium team has set itself the goal of making the Roadmap development process as inclusive and transparent as possible. We began this process by publicly discussing what the Roadmap should look like with all civil society actors. We continued to work on the document in the form of open public regional discussions. Our team also solicited advice and suggestions for improving the document from the representatives of government agencies in the development process. In particular, we held 35 events with 1,000 participants, engaged 250 experts, and performed 75 hours of public work to draft a 160-page final document. Today we are starting the creation of the Coalition of Civil Society Organizations in support of the positive changes enshrined in the Roadmap,” said Olesia Kholopik, CEDEM Director.  

The dozens of questions raised by the co-authors of the Roadmap included the below:

  • Lack of a favorable environment for the development of civil society in Ukraine;
  • Lack of transparent procedures and competitions in the allocation of budget funds to support CSOs;
  • Unfavorable tax environment for civic, charitable and volunteer organizations;
  • Existence of real threats to the life and health of Ukrainian public activists;
  • Attempts to discredit the public sector’s activities to create obstacles to civil society’s development through legislative changes and more. 

The very existence of such risks and obstacles was one reason behind the creation of the Legal Reforms Roadmap. Currently, the provRoadmap missions and key proposals have already served as the basis for the National Strategy for the Development of Civil Society in Ukraine for 2021-2025, which the Cabinet of Ministers is developing a draft in cooperation with representatives of the “third” sector. In the future,of the Roadmap provisions will be implemented in cooperation with the legislative and executive authorities, local governments, etc. 

“It is important for us to interact, develop a partnership, and a new agenda. And I think we hear each other, and it’s important to us. Therefore, I hope we will have positive results in the near future,” commented Oleksandr Yarema

“Altogether, 150 organizations that worked on this civil society reform agenda identified 91 issues that currently concern civic and charitable organizations, self-organization bodies, initiative groups, and offered 307 solutions to the Ukrainian state to address these issues. We hope that we will solve these problems through the joint efforts of civil society organizations and the authorities. We see the Government of Ukraine, regional administrations, and the Verkhovna Rada (which should adopt a significant part of the legislation) as the main implementers of these recommendations, and we see a new enhanced role for local self-government bodies,” summed up Maksym Latsyba, head of the UCIPR civil society development program.

The team of co-authors is to conduct large-scale advocacy campaigns to implement the proposals set out in the Roadmap. Representatives of the public sector are invited to join and work together to create a favorable legal environment for CSOs. 

This event is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) within the Ukraine Civil Society Sectoral Support Activity implemented by Initiative Center to Support Social Action “Ednannia” in partnership with the Ukrainian Center for Independent Political Research (UCIPR) and the Centre for Democracy and Rule of Law (CEDEM).