Joint statement of city, town, village heads, heads of united territorial communities and experts on decentralization of power and local self-government

Decentralization has already changed the lives of millions of Ukrainians in villages and towns, and amendments to the Constitution must guarantee the reform’s irreversibility and successful completion. However, the proposed changes have the opposite effect: they contain signs of power centralization, reduce the status of local self-government and overextend the government’s control via prefects and the President.

– The “new” Constitution does not regulate decentralization of powers and resources. In fact, it does not imply any decentralization of power at all. Consequently, the powers and resources of local self-government can be easily centralized by relevant Laws and all achievements of decentralization reform may become invalid.

– In addition, the government reserves the opportunity to “restart” the composition of a community, district, or region at any time.

– And the Law will be enough to change the legal status of an administrative-territorial unit.

– The term “community” in a new document is rather ambiguous. The draft law defines a community as a legal entity but does not define it as either a territory or population. Under such conditions, there is no ubiquity of local self-government and lands around the community fall out of jurisdiction.

Decentralization is one of the most successful Ukrainian reforms. It is time to enshrine it in the Fundamental Law of Ukraine. But these changes should further the progress of communities. They should not contain any risk of centralizing power. Such important changes should not be made hastily and behind the scenes while the country is undergoing reforms.

The signatories of this statement are against the drafting of the “new” Constitution behind closed doors.

Joint statement

of city, town, village heads, heads of united territorial communities and experts on decentralization of power and local self-government 

We, the signatories of this statement, representing local governments and organizations working in the field of decentralization and local development, as well as independent experts,

aiming to draw the attention of the President of Ukraine, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, the G7 ambassadors to Ukraine, EU representatives in Ukraine and other international institutions, as well as the general public to the threats to local self-government and democracy as a whole contained in the draft law “On Amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine (on Decentralization of Power)” No. 2598, initiated by the President of Ukraine on December 13, 2019  as a high priority,

express our concern about a closed nature ofthe process of preparing this draft law (without involving representatives of local self-government bodies, their associations, civil society organizations and a wide expert community) and urge you:

– to prevent a hasty vote for draft law No. 2598;

– to hold wide discussions and professional consultations for developing joint proposals on draft constitutional amendments related to decentralization, taking into account the views of local self-government leaders and experts.

In order to fully complete the reform of power decentralization and form a capable local self-government in Ukraine, it is urgent to introduce constitutional changes. Many provisions of the European Charter of Local Self-Government have also been pending their implementation into Ukrainian legislation.

However, in comparison with the current Constitution of Ukraine, the changes proposed by draft law No. 2598 show signs of power centralization, narrow the status of local self-government bodies, and overextend the government’s control via prefects and the President. A concise analysis of the threats to local democracy is attached to this appeal.

We appeal to President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy to initiate the creation of an open platform where all interested parties will be able to express their well-grounded views in order to jointly refine the draft amendments to the Constitution on decentralization and bring them in line with the democratic values ​​that we all share.

Addendum to the public statement by city mayors and experts on power decentralization and local self-government