Increasing the influence of ordinary people on state policy
A project has been launched aimed at increasing the influence of local territorial communities in Ukraine on decision making by state authorities and local administrations at the local level.
The influence of ordinary members of the public on state policy in the area of human rights remains limited, with only isolated local initiatives. It is for example a rare event in Ukraine to find the introduction of norms of the European Convention on Human Rights at the level of local self-government, and territorial communities to not add these norms to their charters.
It is this situation that civic actions especially those of civic organizations could influence. Article 13 of the Law “On local self-government in Ukraine” regulates the holding of public hearings. For example: “a territorial community has the right to hold public hearings, meet with deputies of the relevant council and state officials of bodies of local self-government, during which the members of the territorial community may listen, ask questions and present proposals regarding issues of local significance which are within the jurisdiction of the local self-government”.
The running of such events is still not particularly widespread in Ukraine, yet they are a powerful mechanism for pushing the interests of citizens, since “proposals which are put forward as the result of public hearings must be given consideration by bodies of local self-government”. Thus the decisions of these hearings have legitimate force which representatives of the authorities must heed. It is by using this mechanism in order to defend human rights that one can promote the establishment and development of such defence at the state level.
For this reason the Chernihiv Civic Committee for the Protection of Human Rights, with the support of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, have begun a project which, by taking into account the previous experience of civic organizations, plans to use local initiatives in order to rectify inadequacies in state policy in the area of human rights.
The projects goal is to develop appropriate recommendations on amendments to current Ukrainian legislation, as well as recommendations to the government on reforming basic legal institutions in issues pertaining to the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms by supporting local initiatives in the form of a series of public hearings in different regions of Ukraine.
It is planned that six public hearings will be held in six different regions. As follow ups to these, there will be a number of meetings with representatives of the authorities in order to lobby the suggestions expressed during the public hearings.
At the second stage of the project, we plan to publish a collection of all resolutions put forward by the public hearings and to circulate this among as many as possible interested parties capable of influencing the situation.
Viktor Tarasov, Chernihiv Civic Committee for the Protection of Human Rights