NGOs warn against failure of progressive law on civic organizations
Support Civic Organizations!
A number of prominent Ukrainian NGOs have issued an appeal open for endorsement by other civic organizations regarding possible threats to the adoption of a democratic draft Law on Civic Organizations. The draft law in question
- simplifies the procedure for creating civic organizations (NGO’s);
- removes territorial restrictions on the activities of NGOs;
- entitles NGOs to defend the interests not only of their members, but of other people as well.
The authors plan to circulate the appeal with signatures at the OSCE summit, the Eastern Partnership summit, as well as showing it to diplomats.
The appeal in full
As representatives of Ukrainian civic organizations, we are concerned by the possible threat to the adoption of the democratic Draft Law on Civic Organizations, No. 7262-1. At a working group meeting of the Committee on State Construction and Local Self-Government, amendments are being considered which could totally distort the document which was voted on in its first reading on 17 May 2011.
Civic society would stress that the adoption of a European Law on Civic Organizations is one of Ukraine’s international obligations and it should become a conscious step towards signing an Agreement on Association.
We would draw attention to the fact that there are legislative obstructions in Ukraine impeding the formation of a fully-fledged civic society without which the functioning of democratic institutions is impossible.
The Ukrainian authorities have over the last three years failed to enforce the judgement issued by the European Court of Human Rights on 3 April 2008 which found that Ukrainian legislation on civic organizations was in breach of the right of association [Article 11 of the Convention on Human Rights – translator].
Ukrainian legislation on civic organizations imposes considerably worse conditions on civic organizations than on business structures. Complicated bureaucratic procedure; lengthy registration; territorial restrictions for an NGO’s activities; the ban on economic activities; excessive State control – these are just some of the barriers which civic organizations encounter in their work.
Civic organizations therefore:
- call on the Verkhovna Rada to pass the Law on Civic Organizations as quickly as possible, and without distorting its present democratic norms which are in accord with Council of Europe Recommendations CM/REC(2007)14.;
- call on EU institutions to raise the need to pass the Law as soon as possible with the Ukrainian authorities, including as a condition for the signing of the Agreement on Association;
- call on diplomats, representatives of the Council of Europe and OSCE to promote the adoption of democratic legislation on civic organizations at the highest level.
The public are convinced that the adoption of an Agreement on Association without the proper conditions for the development of civil society would jeopardize Ukraine’s fulfilment of its obligations. Current legislation makes effective control over the authorities and public participation in decision making impossible.
The organizations which have already signed the appeal
1. The Ukrainian Centre for Independent Political Research
2. «Centre. UA»
3. The Democratic Alliance
4. Internews Ukraine
5. The Regional Initiatives Foundation
6. The Civic Organization “Ne bud baiduzhym!” [“Don’t be indifferent”]
7. TORO, the contact group in Ukraine for Transparency International
8. Debate Academy
9. The Donetsk Regional Branch of the Committee of Voters of Ukraine
10. The TCK Creative Centre
11. The Centre for Political Studies and Analysis
12. The Media Law Institute
13. The Suspilnist [Public} Foundation
14. The Civic Organization “State Elite”
15. The Civic Organization Ukrainian Strategy
16. The Eastern Ukrainian Centre for Public Initiatives “Total Action in Support of Human Rights and Democracy”
17. The Environmental NGO “MAMA – 86”
18. People’s Diplomacy Foundation
19. Democratic Initiatives Foundation