We, the signatories of the First Joint Statement, representing local government bodies and organisations working in decentralisation and local self-governance, as well as independent experts, aiming at drawing the attention of the President of Ukraine, Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, Ambassadors of the G7 countries in Ukraine, the Delegation of EU to Ukraine, the Special Envoy of the German Government on Decentralisation, and all members of the International Donor Board on Decentralisation Reform in Ukraine who provided very appreciated support to this key reform over the last five years, as well as public at large to threats to local governance and democracy in general contained in the Draft Law “On Amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine (on decentralisation)” #2598 submitted on December 13, 2019 by the President of Ukraine as a priority one, extend our gratitude to the Delegation of the European Union in Ukraine, as well as Embassies of Canada and Germany for their call for a broad public discussion of draft amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine with the involvement in this process of all stakeholders including local self-governance associations and independent experts, we also take note that the Office of the President took into account few of the comments we stressed in the analytical report, which was annexed to the joint statement that follows from the revised Draft Law “On Amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine (on decentralisation)”, which appeared on the site of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine on December 27, 2019, however, at the same time, we see the urgent need to address again central government authorities, Office of the President of Ukraine and Volodymyr Zelenskyi personally, as well as our western partners with the public statement, since the main requirement of the previous statement about the necessity of public discussion of the draft amendments together with the joint preparation of a balanced version of the draft amendments to the Constitution, as would be a normal practice in a democratic country, despite the big number of signatories, despite several calls of local government associations for joint elaboration of the draft amendments, despite the similar calls of the Delegation of the European Union in Ukraine, Special Envoy of the German Government, as well as Embassies of Germany and Canada in Ukraine, has been ignored.
We would like to express our deep concern that the revised text of unknown authorship, as well as the original draft submitted on behalf of the President on December 13, 2019, underwent only technical and formal corrections to avoid a possible negative opinion of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine, and continues to contain a number of dangerous formulations that provide opportunities for dismantling local government autonomy.
The institute of prefects, as proposed in the suggested form, is a tool for the President and Presidential Office to exercise pressure on local governance. They will be able interfere with the local government (further – LG) implementation of both delegated and own mandate and, contrary to the European Charter of Local Self-Government ratified by Ukraine, will be able to suspend LG acts. All this leads to the preconditions threatening to democracy by replacing the critical influence of the community of citizens on local decision-making by the influence of a representative subordinated to the President of Ukraine only.
The text of the amendments to the Constitution also reduces the financial obligation of the state to fund its mandate delegated to local governments in full (education, health care, social protection, culture, sport guarantees of local governance. By removing the) the new Parliament, if adopting these amendments, submitted by the Office of the President, would take the risk of derailing the achievements of fiscal decentralisation and may, in fact, “strip” village, town and city communities of their development budgets. By doing so, they will eliminate opportunities for urban improvements in cities making it іmpossible to upgrade services rendered to community residents and drastically reducing the community prosperity potential.
The amendments also imply curtailed powers of community mayors, thus distorting the internal system of checks and balances between various representative bodies at the local government level. Also, they introduce the okruh level of local self-government, which is expected to include all communities. Due to the absence of the definition of own powers of local governments at the lowest (basic) level in the Constitution of Ukraine, this provision implies the possibility of reducing the powers of lowest (basic) level local government powers with the help of a law adopted by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine requiring only 226 votes, as well as implies conflicts between okruh councils and councils of cities and smaller consolidated territorial communities. This will actually neutralise the main goal of decentralisation: ensuring ubiquity of capable local governments at the lowest level in Ukraine and providing opportunities for every citizen to have equal and high quality public services and equal and high quality living conditions regardless of his/her place of residence.
Since we have not received any official response to our first joint statement and given the considerable threat to local self-governance and democracy in Ukraine contained also in the revised draft amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine, we have to repeat our statement with a categorical request not to vote for this draft law.
If President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyi does not withdraw the draft amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine in order to develop a new draft, prepared in public consultations, jointly with local self-governance associations and independent experts, we urge National Deputies of Ukraine from all factions and groups to vote against the proposed draft law.
Local self-governance is a cradle of democracy in all democratic societies! We have no right to take the path of its destruction!
P.S. This public statement, as well as the first one, signed by more than 200 persons is open. All local government officials, council members, experts, representatives of the civil society, and academics who share it may join the group of signatories by submitting the relevant request to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Respectfully and hoping for mutual understanding,
- Anatoliy Bondarenko, Cherkasy City Mayor;
- Anatoliy Kushner, Mayor of the Yaskivska Village Consolidated Territorial Community, Khmelnytskyi oblast, Chairman of the Chamber of Town and Village Councils and their Unions in the Association of Ukrainian Cities;
- Anatoliy Fedoruk, Mayor of the Buchanska City Consolidated Territorial Community, Kyiv oblast;
- Anatoliy Fedorchuk, Boryspil City Mayor, Kyiv oblast;
- Andriy Sadovyi, Lviv City Mayor;
- Andriy Strannikov, Director of the Institute for Political Education;
- Andriy Sheketa, Institute of Central European Strategy;
- Bohdan Andriiv, Uzhgorod City Mayor;
- Borys Filatov, Dnipro City Mayor;
- Vadym Boichenko, Mariupol City Mayor;
- Vadym Haev, Mayor of the Novopskovska Town Consolidated Territorial Community, Luhansk oblast;
- Vasyl Muravel, Novoyavorivsk City Mayor, Lviv oblast;
- Vasyl Ravlyk, Mayor of the Sokyryanska City Consolidated Territorial Community, Chernivtsi oblast;
- Vasyl Sydor, Mayor of the Slavutska City Consolidated Territorial Community, Khmelnytskyi oblast;
- Vitaliy Klychko, Chairman of the Association of Ukrainian Cities and Kyiv City Mayor;
- Vitaliy Maletskyi, Kremenchuk City Mayor, Poltava oblast;
- Volodymyr Buryak, Zaporizzhya City Mayor;
- Volodymyr Kovalenko, Mayor of the Novokakhovska City Consolidated Territorial Community, Kherson oblast;
- Volodymyr Mykolaenko, Kherson City Mayor;
- Volodymyr Prokopiv, Secretary of the Kyiv City Council, Chairman of the Ukrainian delegation in the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe;
- Volodymyr Pletyuk, Mayor of the Shumska City Consolidated Territorial Community, Ternopil oblast;
- Volodymyr Feskov, expert of the Institute for Political Education;
- Volodymyr Shmatko, Chortkiv City Mayor, Ternopil oblast;
- Halyna Minaeva, Chuhuiv City Mayor, Kharkiv oblast;
- Hryhoriy Pustovit, Acting Lutsk City Mayor and Secretary of the City Council;
- Ivan Lopushynskyi, Professor, Honoured Citizen of the City of Kherson;
- Lyubomyr Hrytsak, manager of the Local Governance: Step towards Efficiency program;
- Lyudmyla Dromashko, Pervomaisk City Mayor, Mykolaiv oblast;
- Mykola Sylenko, decentralisation expert, Ph.D. in Economics;
- Mykhailo Bukhtiarov, Mayor of the Bilyaivska City Consolidated Territorial Community, Odesa oblast;
- Mykhailo Simashkevych, Kamianets-Podilskyi City Mayor, Khmelnytskyi oblast;
- Mykhailo Shelep, decentralisation and local democracy consultant;
- Natalya Dankovska, local government and administrative and territorial arrangement reform expert;
- Oleksandr Korinnyi, Chairman of the Ukraine-Wide Association of Consolidated Territorial Communities, Novoukrainsk City Mayor;
- Oleksandr Symchyshyn, Khmelnytskyi City Mayor;
- Oleksandr Slobozhan, Executive Director of the Association of Ukrainian Cities, Ph.D. in Public Administration;
- Oleksandr Solontai, policy expert;
- Oleksandr Shamota, Acting Poltava City Mayor and Secretary of the City Council;
- Olena Sas, local government communications and administrative and territorialarrangement expert;
- Olha Omelchuk, local development expert;
- Ruslan Martsinkiv, Ivano-Frankivsk City Mayor;
- Ruslan Rokhov, decentralisation, local development and local self-government expert, founder and manager of the School of Mayors;
- Serhiy Honchar, decentralisation and local self-government expert;
- Serhiy Loboiko, Chairman of the center for Innovations development, chief expert of the e-Democracy RPR Coalition;
- Serhiy Morhunov, Vinnytsya City Mayor (consolidated territorial community);
- Serhiy Nadal, Ternopil City Mayor (consolidated territorial community);
- Serhiy Romanovych, decentralisation and local self-government expert;
- Serhiy Solomakha, Myrhorod City Mayor, Poltava oblast;
- Serhiy Sukhomlyn, Zhytomyr City Mayor (consolidated territorial community);
- Serhiy Yatskovskyi, decentralisation and regional development expert;
- Stepan Tsapyuk, Oleksandriya City Mayor, Kirovohrad oblast;
- Taras Sluchyk, expert of the Institute for Political Education;
- Tetyana Kukharska, Executive Director of the Zhytomyr Association of Ukrainian Cities Regional Office;
- Yulia Shmyhalyova, Executive Director of the Ukrainian Crisis Media Center NGO;
- Yuriy Bova, Mayor of the Trostyanets City Consolidated Territorial Community, Sumy oblast;