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Olga Gutovska on the new system of interaction between civil society and the government for Harvard



We, Ukrainians, observe how our country every day moves to the highly desired status of the Rule of Law, overcoming the resistance of bureaucrats and armed attacks and terrorist aggression. The dream of respect for Human Rights, which was grown carefully in our hearts, makes its first steps on the tormented land. Each of us is trying to invest his own part of effort to alleviate this path to the country, and, to increase a chance of success, we unite ourselves within civil society organizations. The main goal of civil society organizations in Ukraine is to promote and protect Human Rights in the state.

In this case, the main problem of Ukraine is the ineffective collaboration of different subjects of human rights promotion, in particular, public and private institutions, and the lack of the real dialogue.

The war and the occupation of Crimea challenged the Human Rights activity in the country. State was forced to open its eyes and admit the absolute unwillingness of the system to ensure Human Rights. The main burden fell on the civil society.

March 2014. Thousands of people, banished from their native homes by horror and weapons, start to settle randomly on the Ukrainian mainland. Without homes, without food, without confidence in the future they step out of the trains on the platforms of unfamiliar cities. The State said, just register in the new place, and we will take care of you. Forced migrants, after hours of standing kilometer queues, get a small piece of paper - a registration of a new location, but instead promised caring the state leaves them with nothing, cutting from the Crimea and not giving anything in return. Volunteers from various civil society organizations, masking dark circles under the eyes, organize mobile kitchens in the centers of the cities, hand out clothes and toys for children of migrants, and provide them with temporary housing. Chairmen of the non-governmental organization alarm on national broadcast channels during prime-time, saying that the State violates the Convention on Human Rights. Ombudsman and Parliament and the Ministry of Social Policy keep silent during several months.

June 2014. Thousands of mobilized men go to the front without body armor, forms and weapons. Mothers overlap the roads from the local military cites, citizens donate millions of dollars to support soldiers and their families. Non-governmental organizations criticize the policy of the Ministry of Defense and ineffective commands. The government shrugs in the answer and the Parliament introduces new taxes to support the army. Daily news reports terrific amounts of killed, wounded and imprisoned Ukrainians. Civil society organizations and the government keep staying on the different sides of the barricades, and the dialogue between them is limited to recriminations.

Since then, little has changed. NGOs are sorted out on some ministerial functions instead affect the quality of services provided by the government. The number of private funds help immigrants and members TUs increases, and the state can not cope with social assistance. IDPs can not hold children in school, trying unsuccessfully to regain control over the property in Crimea, landlords refuse to hand over the apartment "Crimeans" and the "Donetsk". The veterans are going through the painful process of adjustment to civilian life, faced with unjustified refusal in hiring and payment of pensions.

Strategy solve this problem, I believe establishing an effective dialogue between NGOs and the government, both within and participants help immigrants ATO and other areas in the future.

First of all, Ukraine should be developed a new system of interaction between NGOs and the State in which the state and civil society are partners, not rivals. Such a system will enable faster and better address issues of human rights and aid to vulnerable groups. For example, it is advisable to introduce the practice of cooperation in the rehabilitation of wounded soldiers. Instead of randomly hold a narrow range of low-rehabilitation of injured, can provide continuous comprehensive rehabilitation of more people. It is necessary to organize a series of meetings in which the Ministry of Social Policy and the Ministry of Health will present current capacity, and community organizations and charities - and offers its capabilities in this area, and so you can avoid duplication of providing rehabilitation services to choose the best options among institutions who are willing to provide such rehabilitation, and identify the source of funds for its payment.

In addition, an important factor in the development of dialogue between NGOs and the government is taking the necessary regulations. Parliament should enact laws that would ensure real participation of NGOs in the discussion of draft laws and government programs relating to the promotion and realization of human rights. Civil society should be granted the right to articulate its position on the draft laws prior to their adoption, for example, by participating in the work of parliamentary committees and a dummy existing procedure of "public debate", which is available for most NGOs, should be abolished. For example, in the case of discussion of the bill on the rights of migrants from the Crimea should be granted the right to speak to representatives of the Mejlis, Crimean Tatar public organizations, experts in the field of minority rights and the victims of international conflicts. In the case of planning a law on ATO members benefits, it is necessary to involve discussion of veterans associations, associations of mothers of fallen soldiers, association officers and volunteer battalions.

The state should begin to actively involve the public through open tenders and grants to joint projects. For example, so you can reform the Ukrainian system of free legal aid to the population which is in long stagnation. Positive changes would delegate the powers of non-governmental legal aid centers working in the same sector. For example, it would be reasonable to leave one controlling State Center of legal assistance and direct advice on places to entrust NGOs selected by transparent competition on the criteria of professionalism and dedication, while ensuring their specialists working conditions and wages. Another project would be to provide grants for monitoring quality ATO providing benefits to participants, including the issuance of free land, disposable material benefits. State may offer the NGO on the basis of the competition have access to such issuance and illuminate the process to the public, thus explaining the same procedure as for the participants of ATO and controlling the transparency and legitimacy of the process.

OSCE notes that within the framework of building a dialogue between the state and society should be introduced involving the NGOs to conflict resolution and negotiations [1, p. 8]. In particular, this technique would be useful in the exchange of prisoners with terrorist organizations, restore infrastructure in towns liberated from terrorists and activities related to the involvement of immigrants in public life in the new locations. It is generally the phenomenon of "change angle" a person who is endowed with power, so in essence the community are more likely to trust members of society, not government officials, and, of course, the involvement of NGOs to conflict resolution, no doubt, will be very effective step. It will also allow NGOs and the state interact, unite and not to act alone. It is this form of activity is the purpose of civil society.

What I think, in conclusion, is that we need to act now. No other chance for civil society, which of course include conscious business, will be given.


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