14. Ukraine Breakfast Debate: “Judicial Reform and the Fight against Corruption in the Ukrainian Regions“
On 15 July 2019, the 14th Ukraine Breakfast Debate took place at the Institut für Europäische Politik within the framework of the project “Platform for Analytics and Intercultural Communication” (PAIC).
Together with our experts Iryna Shyba, Executive Director at the DEJURE Foundation in Kyiv, and Oksana Huss, Post-Doctoral Researcher at Leiden University and co-founder of the Interdisciplinary Corruption Research Network (ICR Network), our guests discussed “The Fight Against Corruption in Ukraine: The Role of the Judicial System and Regional Civil Society Organizations”.
Since the Revolution of Dignity, the Ukrainian judicial system undergoes comprehensive reforms to strengthen the independence of the judiciary, the rule of law and the efficiency of courts. As early as 2015, the authority to appoint and remove judges was assigned to the High Qualification Commission of Judges (HQCJ) and the High Council of Judges (HCJ) to ensure political independence of the judges. Previously, these were solely appointed by the president and could be removed from office by the president and parliament. However, the appointment of judges by other judges bears risks and conflicts within the judicial community. Therefore, a lot of Ukranian experts recommended that at least 50 per cent of the HQCJ positions should be held by lawyers, human rights activistis, academics, and journalists nominated by civil society organizations. Additionally, all candidates should be examined to detail by international experts and be confirmed by electronic voting to ensure anonymity during the voting process. The campaign ”The Agenda for Justice“ of the DEJURE Foundation seeks political support in the ongoing parliamentary election campaigns for these and other anti-corruption measures.
The second topic of the Breakfast debate revolved around the fight against corruption the Ukrainian regions. With the establishment of the High Anti-Corruption Court and the National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU) in early 2019, the Ukrainian state set a milestone in the fight against corruption. However, as a byproduct of the decentralization reform, corrupt schemes shifted from the center to the peripheries and now pose challenges for local activists. Against this backdrop, our speakers addressed the contextual factors which determine the success of regional anti-corruption organizations.
Moreover, during the Breakfast first findings from the research project „Civil Society against Corruption in Ukraine: Political Roles, Advocacy, Strategies and Impact” were presented. Factors that influence the success or failure of different anti-corruption strategies include the political will of the local elites to contain corruption, the elite’s (informal) competition for power and the degree of centralization. Therefore, a tailored strategy needs to be applied on each case. While confrontational strategies that is, acting against the will of the political elites, might create a certain impact in some cases, cooperative approaches lead to more successful and sustainable results in other cases. With regard to civil society organizations, limited capacities and a lack of public support were identified to be the greatest obstacles to successfully containing corruption. However, these shortcomings might be compensated by institutional funding and cooperating with high-capacity organizations. As a conclusion, it was suggested that some international donors should reassess their funding practices.
The research project which was conducted by Leiden University in cooperation with the Anti-Corruption Research and Education Centre der Kiewer Mohyla Academy (ACREC, Kyiv) and supported by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO, Den Haag).
The Ukraine Breakfast Debates take place within the framework of the project “Platform for Analytics and Intercultural Communication” (PAIC) and are designed as Ukraine expert talks on topical and relevant issues, which are discussed with our guests over croissants and coffee. The project PAIC aims at promoting professional expertise among Ukrainian think tanks, creating synergies between German and Ukrainian think tanks and transferring knowledge about developments in Ukraine to Germany. PAIC is conducted in close cooperation with the Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation (DIF, Kyiv) and the think tanks development and research initiative think twice UA (Kyiv) and is kindly supported by the Federal Foreign Office.