war crimes in Ukraine

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Dangerous redistribution of powers on environmental issues proposed

The draft law proposes amendments which would assign the Cabinet of Ministers and local administrations an excessive role in deciding on the use of natural resources, environmental impact assessments and others

  On 11 April the Parliamentary Committee on Environmental Policy is due to consider a draft law proposing amendments supposedly aimed at “optimization of the powers of executive bodies in the areas of environmental and natural resources, including at local level”.

Civic organizations believe that the draft law contains a number a major threats.

Amendments are proposed to the Codes on Mineral Resources; Water; Forest; to the Environment Protection Law; the Laws on Ukraine’s Red Book and on Environmental Impact Assessments.  There would be a redistribution of powers in favour of the Cabinet of Ministers and local State administrations, with those being assigned excessive and inappropriate functions with respect to decision-making on the use of natural resources, State environmental impact assessments and others.

The amendments proposed in this draft law put forward by Yury Miroshnichenko seem particularly ill-advised and senseless since the Cabinet of Ministers and local administrations are doing a highly inadequate job in carrying out their present functions with respect to environmental policy as assigned them by the Constitution, laws and international agreements.

Their dismal track record is demonstrated by the following:

Not one administration reports on implementation of environmental protection programmes (as required by Article 119 of the Constitution);

None informs the public about the state of the environment in the relevant area (as per Article 25-1 of the Environment Protection Law).

In 2011 the Conferences of the Parties yet again found that the Ukrainian Government was not fulfilling its obligations under three international agreements on environmental protection: the Aarhus Convention; the Espo Convention and the Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

There is absolutely no logic to the proposal in the draft law to abolition the National Commission on Ukraine’s Red Book, instead assigning to the Cabinet of Ministers and other executive bodies the functions of analysing and generalizing proposals to add animal and plant species to the Red Book.

The draft law would dissolve the territorial bodies of the Environmental Protection Ministry; deliberately remove the Ministry from decision-making regarding use of natural resources and denigrate its rule in carrying out environmental impact assessments. These changes would render impossible an eco-systemic approach and integrated management of natural resources. Ukraine would automatically block itself off from the modern sectoral environmental policy being implemented in EU countries.

Environmental NGOs are calling on the Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada, the heads of parliamentary factions and members of the Parliamentary Committee on Environmental Policy to reject this unacceptable draft law which would have disastrous consequences at national level to environmental policy and which is clearly aimed at concentrating power with the “vertical” of executive power.

They are convinced that such a totalitarian “vertical” has no place in State governance within a democratic European-focused society based on sustainable development and integrated management of natural resources. Balance of power and consideration of the needs of all interested parties are vital.

Adapted from a text by Oleksandr Stepanenko, Executive Director of EHO Zeleny Svit and member of the Board of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union

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