Democracy & Civil Society Task Force

OVERVIEW

OVERVIEW
Ukraine’s competitive 2019 presidential and parliamentary elections held with respect to fundamental freedoms and broadly reflecting the will of the voters have further demonstrated the commitment of the Ukrainian people to a democratic future.

In 2019, Ukrainian voters were clear about the direction of their nation and the serious challenges that need to be addressed by their government, including reinvigorating efforts to strengthen rule of law, combat corruption, strengthen and protect civil society and fulfill Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations.

The election results provide Ukraine’s new leadership and the Ukrainian people with an unprecedented opportunity to strengthen democracy and address these challenges. We urge President Zelenskyy and the new government and Rada to carry out reform commitments and seize this opportunity to advance Ukraine’s democracy and accelerate its integration with the European Union and NATO.

A democratic, secure and prosperous Ukraine continues to be in the national security interest of the United States, European Union and international community. Ukraine continues to receive strong bipartisan support in Washington and from European and international partners.

Thanks to the dynamic role of Ukrainian civil society since the Maidan, and the dedication of reformers, Ukraine has made significant progress in the last five years to stabilize its economy, carry out democratic reforms and counter Russia’s war of aggression. We applaud that effort. However, Ukraine must guard against anti-corruption backsliding that occurred over the past year, as pointed out by Ukraine’s partners, including the United States.  Ukraine’s new leadership has an opportunity to dispel these concerns and reinvigorate Ukraine’s commitment to implement democratic reforms and address entrenched corruption that has held back Kyiv’s Euro-Atlantic progress.

As Russia continues to wage war against Ukraine it is increasingly important in 2019 and beyond that the United States, European Union and other partners of Ukraine step up efforts to strengthen Ukrainian democratic and economic resilience. This includes reinforcing Ukrainian civil society’s fight against corruption and partnering with Ukraine to build a robust democracy with strong institutions, political parties and independent media — all necessary in a healthy and vibrant democracy. Continuing on the reform path, especially in the area of rule of law, will benefit Ukraine’s democracy, economy, security and independence. Failure to do so only benefits Moscow.

TASK FORCE MEMBERS

Jonathan Katz, Co-Chair (German Marshall Fund)

Orest Deychakiwsky, Co-Chair (Former Senior Policy Advisor, US Helsinki Commission)

Adrian Karmazyn, Vice Chair (Former Voice of America Ukrainian Service Chief)

Tania Chomiak-Salvi (Former Deputy Coordinator, International Information Programs, US Department of State)

Jaroslav Dutkewych (Former Peace Corps Ukraine Director)

David J. Kramer (Former Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor)

Stephen Nix (International Republican Institute)

 

 

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2020 FOUN Recommendations

  • Increase and immediately extend, as needed, U.S. assistance and diplomatic engagement with Ukraine to respond to the coronavirus pandemic and to address economic, medical, societal, human rights and other challenges, protecting Ukraine’s most vulnerable population, including in Crimea and the Donbas.

 

  • Increase support for Ukraine’s civil society and independent media to safeguard and strengthen Ukraine’s democracy, good governance, rule of law, human rights, citizen trust, mitigation of corruption and ensure a more transparent, effective and accountable response to the coronavirus pandemic.

 

  • Increase support for Ukraine’s civil society and media to effectively address disinformation campaigns.

 

  • Increase U.S. bipartisan, political and diplomatic engagement with the Ukrainian government and civil society, private sector and international partners to support adoption and implementation of reforms in Ukraine that focus on democracy, rule of law, anti-corruption efforts and law enforcement.

 

  • Support and coordinate with the International Monetary Fund and other international partners the implementation of the IMF-Ukraine new Stand-By-Arrangement, its stringent conditionality, benchmarks and policy priorities, including mitigating the severe economic impact of COVID-19 and maintaining and moving forward key governance and anti-corruption measures.

 

  • Urge President Zelenskyy and the Ukrainian government to ensure the independence of the National Bank of Ukraine critical to Ukraine’s macroeconomic and fiscal stability and engagement with international financial institutions.

 

  • Support and urge President Zelenskyy and the government to fully implement and carry out critical anti-corruption, law enforcement, judicial, banking and democratic reforms.

 

  • Support enhanced dialogue and collaboration between Ukrainian civil society organizations and government to advance key reforms, including fulfilling good governance and democratic principles envisioned in the 2019 Toronto Principles (to be reinforced at the Ukraine Reform Conference 2020).

 

  • Urge the Ukrainian government to demonstrate its continued commitment to due process and the rule of law, ensure public confidence in democratic institutions and the constitutional reform process, and avoid selective justice, including in the persecution of political opponents. Discourage improper use of investigatory and prosecutorial functions against political opponents and former officials.

 

  • Deepen political, development and economic cooperation among the U.S., European Union, Germany, Canada, United Kingdom and international financial institutions, including the International Monetary Fund, and other partners of Ukraine to strengthen Ukrainian democracy, resiliency, fight against corruption and continued Russian aggression.

 

  • Urge the U.S. Congress to continue to provide political support for Ukraine and engage -- including through hearings, resolutions and statements, and through direct dialogue with Ukrainian lawmakers -- on Ukraine’s democratic reform efforts and play a role in determining, as necessary, conditionality on U.S. assistance to Ukraine.

 

  • The U.S. should re-energize and utilize in 2020-2021 the three bilateral working groups (on Security and Countering Russian Aggression, Rule of Law and Humanitarian Issues, and Economy and Energy) created in November 2018 in the framework of the U.S.-Ukraine Strategic Partnership Commission to strengthen the U.S.-Ukraine strategic partnership, advance Ukraine’s democratic and economic reforms and deepen its Euro-Atlantic integration.

 

  • Maintain, and, as necessary, increase, U.S. government funding to strengthen Ukraine’s election processes, including local elections in October 2020, to ensure that elections meet international democratic standards and are free, fair, open and transparent.

 

  • Consider providing additional funding, as needed, to help Ukraine defend its election infrastructure against cyberattacks from Russia and other malign actors.

 

  • Intensify diplomatic and political support for Ukraine’s civil society to strengthen their efforts to combat corruption, monitor government and hold it accountable, as well as ensure that authorities cease any attempts to curtail activists’ lawful activities or attacks and pressure on them.

 

  • Urge the Ukrainian government, including the Ukrainian National Police and other law enforcement agencies, to ensure the safety and security of NGOs and investigate and hold accountable individuals responsible for attacks on human rights defenders, civic activists, and journalists.

 

  • Maintain, and increase, where appropriate, current levels of U.S. government funding and technical assistance to further develop and strengthen civil society organizations, with a focus on their institutional development and capacity building.

 

  • Maintain, and increase, where appropriate, U.S. training for reform-oriented national political parties.

 

  • Where appropriate, the U.S. should apply targeted conditionality to development and macroeconomic assistance support focused on the passage and implementation of key democratic and rule of law reforms, including independent and impartial courts, law enforcement agencies, and comprehensive reform of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), including curtailing investigations of business activity.

 

  • Increase or maintain current levels of U.S. government funding for academic, professional, and people-to-people exchanges through existing – and new – exchange programs with Ukraine.

 

  • Increase or maintain current levels of U.S. government funding for the development of independent and investigative media in Ukraine.

 

  • Continue to fund the Ukrainian Services of the Voice of America and Radio Liberty at levels that enable them to vigorously respond to Russian disinformation as well as the informational shortcomings and biases of oligarch-controlled media in Ukraine.

 

  • Increase or maintain current levels of U.S. government funding for civil society organizations engaged in human rights monitoring, defense, and advocacy throughout Ukraine, including Crimea and the Russia-occupied territories of the Donbas.

 

  • Continue U.S. assistance in support of decentralization in Ukraine, empowering local governments and communities as purveyors and implementers of reforms and more responsive governance.

 

  • Target U.S. assistance for programs to improve trust and confidence and reconciliation between citizens and government in eastern Ukraine.

 

  • Focus U.S. assistance on strengthening the capacity of all branches of the Ukrainian government to fulfill implementation of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement and further Euro-Atlantic integration.

 

  • Continue to condemn diplomatically and hold accountable the Russian Federation and proxies for its illegal invasion, occupation and annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea and for ongoing violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms in Crimea and the Donbas.

 

  • Retain and strengthen U.S. sanctions against Russia and its proxies for their egregious human rights violations in Crimea and the Donbas.

 

  • Fully implement the IMF-Ukraine new Stand-By-Arrangement, and its conditionality, benchmarks and policy priorities, including mitigating the severe economic impact of COVID-19 and maintaining and moving forward on key governance and anti-corruption measures.

 

  • Continue to make concrete and demonstrable progress in 2020-2021 implementing reforms, strengthening the rule of law, protecting human rights,promoting further reform of the judicial system and of law enforcement structures, and more resolutely combat corruption.

 

  • Commit to ensuring that democratic and reform progress and anti-corruption measures will move forward and be a priority even as the government addresses and seeks to mitigate the health, economic and social impacts of COVID-19.

 

  • Immediately cease using the judiciary system for the purposes of politically-motivated prosecutions targeting political opponents and former officials.The manipulation of the judicial system and selective justice raise serious questions regarding Ukraine’s commitment to the rule of law and democracy.

 

  • Reform the Security Service of Ukraine, including adopting new legislation to strengthen the protection of human rights and eliminate interference in business activities.

 

  • Reform law enforcement agencies, including the Ministry of Interior, to ensure respect for individual rights, greater accountability, and the end to impunity.

 

  • Resume reform of the Prosecutor General’s Office to ensure its transparency, professionalism and political independence.

 

  • Closely cooperate with civil society organizations to improve upon the new electoral code for national and local elections, including addressing the issue of combatting corruption in elections.

 

  • Integral to democratic reforms, ensure transparent appointment of officials in strategic government positions and refrain from dismissing or unduly pressuring reform-minded ones without legal grounds.

 

 

  • Strengthen the rule of law by reshuffling tainted judicial self-governance bodies, ensure a transparent and competitive selection process for the court apparatus and take other measures recommended by civil society and international experts to improve judicial independence, integrity, professionalism and accountability.

 

  • Promote further judicial reform to ensure impartiality, credibility and professionalism of the High Council of Justice and minimization of its influence on the High Qualifications Commission of Judges.

 

  • Shore up efforts to safeguard the effectiveness of anti-corruption legal tools and institutions.

 

  • Encourage Ukraine’s pro-reform forces, civil society and judiciary system to undertake and implement reforms that would better hold corrupt officials to account.

 

  • Support and refrain from further undermining the work of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU); safeguard existing anti-corruption legislation from being watered down.

 

  • Support efforts aimed at further institutional strengthening of the High Anti-Corruption Court and its provision with all the necessary resources for uninterrupted operation; help ensure anti-corruption institutions work together in fostering rule of law and transparent, accountable government.

 

  • Ensure transparency, efficiency, and political independence of the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office (SAPO) and other anti-corruption agencies.

 

  • Remove or amend legislation that unduly and unfairly hampers the work of civil society and refrain from further attempts to limit the space for its operation. Prevent any expressions of legislative, media, physical and other types of pressure on civil society as one of Ukraine’s major reform drivers.

 

  • Thoroughly and impartially investigate and bring to justice all instances of killings and other attacks on civil society activists, journalists, and members of minority groups, including Roma.

 

  • Cooperate with civil society organizations engaged in efforts to promote and protect human rights.

 

  • Secure media reform, enable uninterrupted and safe operation of independent media and ensure freedom of speech, including securing sufficient and stable funding for Ukraine’s public broadcaster (UA:PBC).

 

  • Work with civil society and media to counter increased internal and external disinformation efforts, by Russia, directed at undermining Ukraine’s democracy, its COVID-19 response and EU and NATO integration.

 

  • Ensure health reform implementation in accordance with the previously developed model, particularly in secondary care, as well as guarantee institutional independence of the National Health Service.

 

 

Please click here to read FOUN 2020 RECOMMENDATIONS FOR US ASSISTANCE TO UKRAINE

 

 

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