Ukraine SSR Background Note

14/09/2017

Key Statistics

Population: 44,831,159 (World Bank, 2017)

Capital: Kiev

Major Ethnic Groups: Ukrainian 77.8%, Russian 17.3%, Belarusian 0.6%, Moldovan 0.5%, Crimean Tatar 0.5%, Bulgarian 0.4%, Hungarian 0.3%, Romanian 0.3%, Polish 0.3%, Jewish 0.2%, other 1.8% (World Bank, 2001)

Languages: Ukrainian (official), Russian

GDP per Capita: US$ 2,185.7 (World Bank, 2017)

Security Sector Stats

Army: 256,000 total military personnel (World Bank, 2015)

Police Force: 159,000 (November 2015)

Military Expenditure: 3.7% of GDP (World Bank, 2016)

Table of Contents

1. Introduction and General Background

2. Political Context

    i. Euromaidan Revolution, Annexation of Crimea and the Outbreak of Conflict

    ii. Additional Security Concerns

3. SSR Overview

4. Sector Specific Overview

    i. Governance 

        a. Constitutional Reforms and Decentralisation 

        b. Corruption

        c. Civil Society Engagement and Civilian Oversight

    ii. Defence Sector Reform

        a. Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF)

        b. Security Service of Ukraine (SBU)

        c. Border Guard Service

    iii. Police Reform

    iv. Justice Reform

    v. Prison Reform

5. Future Considerations

6. Appendix 

    i.List of Acronyms

7. Additional Resources 

 1. Introduction and General Background

Ukraine is located in Eastern Europe, bordering the Black Sea, Azov Sea, Poland, Romania, Belarus, Hungary, Slovakia, Moldova and Russia.  By landmass, Ukraine is the second largest country in Europe. With a population of 44,590,879, it ranks as the 6th most populated country in Europe (Ined, 2017).

Ukraine has been subject to foreign rule for much of its history after the 12th century until independence in 1991. Most notably, various parts of western Ukraine have been culturally and ethnically influenced by the rule of Poland, Austria Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Lithuania. In contrast, most parts of eastern Ukraine have historically fallen under Russian rule. The historical and cultural east and west divide in Ukraine has persisted until present day. Central and western regions continue to have a more politically pro-western stance while the eastern areas favour closer alignment with Russia due to historical and ethnic links.[1] 

Following independence in 1991, the Ukrainian economic sector has largely stagnated, with limited economic reforms, high incidence of public and private sector corruption, and a largely antiquated industrial base. Yet, in addition to containing large tracks of very fertile soil, it maintains a robust chemical industry and is considered to be one of the world’s most important mineral producers in terms of both the range and size of its reserves.   

Ukraine is particularly vulnerable in terms of energy supply, having imported 34 % of its natural gas directly from Russia in 2014. In this regard, periodic disputes with Russia over payments and delivery of natural gas have resulted in several notable cases of Ukraine being cut off from gas supplies altogether. Since 2014, some of the dependency on a single supplier has been ameliorated by establishing a reverse flow of natural gas from Slovakia, Poland and Hungary.  The EU is currently supporting Ukraine to become independent of Russian energy supplies in the next years (EU observer, 2016). Additionally, given that Russia is one of Ukraine’s largest trading partners, Russian sanctions against Ukraine following the 2014 crisis have negatively affected the economy. In 2014, the GDP fell by 6.6 %, and only recovered to positive growth of 1.5 % in 2016. Ukraine is benefiting from an International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan programme since 2014. Inflation had temporarily risen to almost 50 % in 2015, only to drop to about 14 % in 2016. The Ukrainian economy grew slightly in 2015, although it is still heavily dependent on IMF lending. The Ukrainian hryvnia  has lost 70% of its value since 2014 and continues to slide. The belt-tightening of the economy dampens demand and consumers are struggling, with many in default over their loans. Real wages fell by 25% in 2015 and high inflation has diminished the value of savings.1

Return to top

 2. Political Context

After gaining independence in 1991, Ukraine has periodically changed its geopolitical orientation towards European integration or aligning with Russia, largely reflecting which party is in power at any given time. The outbreak of mass protests in late 2004, more commonly known as the Orange Revolution, was the first significant citizen gathering voicing discontent with financial and political setbacks. Under the Yushchenko Presidency, the Government voiced a strong political commitment to closer European integration, though due to the coalition Government infighting, little progress was made in the overall reform efforts or closer integration.

Since independence, business oligarchs have played an influential role in the Ukrainian economy and politics. Prior to the 2014 conflict, it was estimated that oligarchs controlled 40% of Ukraine’s wealth and 16% of GDP (OCO, 2013; Godsend, 2003; Godsend, 2003). The influence of oligarchs includes the monopolisation of key industries in the energy, metallurgy, media and trade sectors. Many oligarchs have both formally and informally been engaged in the political affairs in the country, most notably at the regional (Oblast) levels. Civil society, and international actors, including the US and EU, have expressed concern regarding the influence of oligarchs, particularly the manner in which private businesses have been given access to government budgets (FAS, 2014). Since the appointment of President Poroshenko, the Government has signalled a commitment to reduce the influence of oligarchs on politics. However, doing so will likely remain a long-term and difficult process. Oligarchs and weak institutions still dominate in the country through “unwritten rules” that undermine the government (RAND, 2016). The next elections in Ukraine are scheduled for 2019.  

i. Euromaidan Revolution, Annexation of Crimea and the Outbreak of Conflict

While the succeeding Yanukovych Presidency originally retained a pro-European orientation after 2010, President Yanukovych took a sudden decision on 21 November 2013 to reorient Ukraine away from the EU and towards the newly established Eurasian Customs Union. The decision to abandon the process of EU integration sparked a wave of protests and triggered the Maiden revolution, known as ‘Euromaidan’, in the centre of Kyiv. Euromaidan led to violent clashes between the government security forces and protesters. These events, which resulted in the deaths of 82 protestors and 13 police officers, as well as injuring over 1100 people, ultimately contributed towards President Victor Yanukovych’s dismissal and his subsequent flight from the country in February 2014. The need for constitutional reforms relating to decentralisation and judicial reform had been acknowledged during and since the Euromaidan demonstrations (Carnegie Europe, 2016). 

Shortly after the ousting of President Yanukovych, and following unrecognised pro-Russian military operations which captured key facilities on the Crimean peninsula, a snap referendum was organised by the separatist Government in Crimea that resulted in its secession from Ukraine and integration into Russia. Soon thereafter, further separatist movements began spreading throughout areas of eastern Ukraine. In April 2014, referendums in Donetsk and Luhansk (collectively known as the Donbas) led to a declaration of independence for the regions, establishing “Peoples Republics” in both areas. During this period, Kharkiv Oblast, which neighbours the Donbas, was also declared an independent republic when rebels stormed and took over the main administration building.  However, this was quickly recovered and normality was restored by the Kyiv government. Kyiv responded by initiating ‘anti-terrorist operations’ (ATOs) and sending Ukrainian troops towards the east. It is noteworthy that none of the aforementioned referendums were recognized by the Supreme Court of Ukraine and were widely condemned by the international community as being unlawful.

As the conflict had escalated to armed violence in Donetsk and Luhansk, the international community called for the establishment of an OSCE monitoring mission in March 2014. In May 2014 Petro Poroshenko was elected as the President of Ukraine and Arseniy Yatsenyuk was appointed Prime Minister. In June 2014 the Ukraine - European Union Association Agreement was signed that committed Ukraine to economic, judicial and financial reforms to converge its processes and policies to that of the EU.  In October 2014., there was an election for the Verkhovna Rada (the Ukrainian parliament), which did not include the Crimea or Donbas, and the new parliament began its 5-year term on 27 November 2014.

In September 2014, through mediation support from France, Germany, Belarus and Russia, Ukraine had signed the Minsk Protocol with the Lugansk Peoples Republic and Donetsk Peoples Republic to halt hostilities. Even though the ceasefire did contribute to a decline in the intensity of the fighting following its signature, it did not end the hostilities altogether and by the end of 2014 conflict had resumed in full. In February 2015, the same actors signed the Minsk II agreement, which called for a comprehensive ceasefire.

Minsk II contributed to a significant decline in the intensity of fighting, although recurring violations of the agreement were reported by the OSCE Monitoring Mission and the European External Action Service until February 2017 (EEAS, 2017; OSCE, 2017). Heavy fighting between the two sides occurred throughout the summer of 2017. This included occasional heavy fighting and continued civilian and military casualties in the agreed security zone. Notably, the OSCE mission has reported that its access to verify compliance has been impeded by both parties to the conflict. There is mistrust at the higher political level in Ukraine about Russia’s commitment to relinquish its military presence in the region in the near future, even if a complete ceasefire is achieved.2  Additionally, increase in cease-fire violations along the front-line have been reported in the Donetsk region since late January 2017.3

ii. Additional Security Concerns

Organised crime continues to remain a major security concern, especially as elements of organised crime units are believed to be heavily interconnected and entrenched within state institutions, including the judiciary and law enforcement (FAS, 2017). The most serious threats include human trafficking, narcotics, small arms light weapons (SALWs) trafficking and money laundering. Steps have been taken to combat money laundering, human trafficking and reduce corruption, however with limited effects to date. For example, Ukraine is moving closer to the 4th EU directive on money laundering, but legislation for the development of an anti-trafficking programme has been plagued by underfunding and poor resource allocation.4  A great deal of attention has been given to anti-corruption legislation and mechanisms, however some have questioned the full commitment and political will available to implement such reforms.5  New anti-corruption laws have been promulgated in late 2014 and early 2015, and an Anti-Corruption Bureau investigating corruption among government officials was established. In February 2016, prosecutor general Shokin was asked to resign due to his inability to tackle corruption even within the Prosecutor General’s Office. 

Another major security issue is Violence Against Women (VAW). A recent country-wide victimization survey indicates that 21.6% of the female population aged 15-49, meaning approximately 880.000 women, have experienced intimate partner violence in their lifetime (UNFPA, 2014). Although the socio-economic profile is one of the factors influencing the likelihood of exposure, violence against women is widespread in the whole society and impacts all social groups. The high prevalence of VAW is paired with social tolerance and virtual impunity. Only 1,049 rape cases were reported to the police in 2016, and no more than 61 alleged perpetrators were convicted for rape during the same period (DCAF/La Strada-Ukraine, 2017). Moreover, the conflict in Eastern Ukraine has been accompanied by cases of violations of human rights, including sexual gender-based violence, which have gained large public attention. A prevalence survey conducted in conflict-affected regions has highlighted the increased vulnerability of women to violence in the conflict zones, in particular among IDPs (UNFPA, 2016). 

Finally, as of April 2016 Ukraine officially has over 1.76 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), while over 850,000 refugees have crossed the border into Russia (OSCE, 2016). Because of permit restrictions for individuals entering and leaving ATO zones, travel and access to roads have been restricted. Isolated communities within the ATO zone have limited access to humanitarian aid, thereby increasing concern that women, children and minority groups are particularly vulnerable. Individuals in certain areas of the ATO zones in particular have been noted to lack adequate medicine, food, water, access to justice, functional schooling facilities and clothing. The humanitarian space in the self-proclaimed "republics" is further shrinking as humanitarian organisations face difficulties in delivering aid to the needy. In November 2016, the de-facto “authorities” in Donetsk expelled the last fully operational international NGO providing vital humanitarian aid to tens of thousands of civilians.6

Return to top

 3. SSR Overview

Since gaining independence in 1991, much of the security and defence reform efforts have focused on the Four Phases Defence Sector Strategy. The strategy included an emphasis on downsizing the armed forces, and increasing their capacity. However, the latter was only partially successful, while whole scale defence reform was never initiated. In addition, throughout various phases of the reform, Ukraine struggled to develop a clear design for its defence and police forces (DCAF, 2010). Although modest reform efforts were made, overall until the lead up to the conflict in 2014 SSR had been slow and heavily politicized, leading to key management and accountability gaps in the security sector. Comparatively, the pace and scope of reforms across the sector has significantly increased following the start of the conflict in 2014.   

As of 2015, the National Security and Defence Strategy 2015-2020 identified the conflict in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine as the primary threat to National Security. Additional threats included foreign troop aggression within Ukraine, subversive activities provoking ethnic tensions, and corruption. As a result, SSR in Ukraine has been largely shaped by the need to ensure security and rule of law in Eastern Ukraine and conduct large scale ATOs. In parallel however, there is a substantial new reform process underway. This includes the establishment of a new police force, large scale vetting of the judiciary and law enforcement agencies, and the planned creation of new agencies, including a new Bureau of Investigations. Much of the focus has been centred on capacity building and integrity, namely anti-corruption.

Ukraine has developed the Ukraine 2020 Strategy which aims to ensure that Ukrainians are: “strong and able to protect ourselves, work honestly and earn respectable salaries, care about others, live with dignity in one’s own country and be proud of it,” while simultaneously adapting to European standards. Its roadmap includes Four Pillars —two of which focus on security and justice7 — as well as 62 reform plans and programmes. Priority Reform areas in the strategy document are:  Anti-Corruption Reform and Lustration, Judicial Reform, De-Centralisation and State Governance Reform, Reform of Law Enforcement Systems, and the Reform of the National Security and Defence Systems.

A host of bilateral and multilateral partners are supporting the SSR process in Ukraine, including NATO, the OSCE, UNDP and a civilian EU Advisory Mission (EUAM). The level of support across the sector has significantly increased since the start of the conflict in 2014, with both a significant increase in the number and size of donor programmes providing support. Overall, the United States continues to be the single largest bilateral donor across the security and justice sector. NATO is one of the most active external supporters of SSR through a range of capacity building programmes for the security forces, parliamentary assistance, civil emergency planning, and anti-corruption programmes. OSCE’s Project-Coordinator in Ukraine (OSCE-PCU) engages in 34 projects, cutting across key areas such as ‘Parliamentary and Public Oversight’, ‘DDR, SAWL and Demining’, and ‘Justice Reform’.

Return to top

 4. Sector Specific Overview

i. Governance 

a. Constitutional Reforms and Decentralisation

Various policy and strategic reform documents related to SSR adopted in the 1990s and early 2000s outlined the need for stronger political will to initiate and sustain reform efforts, improving internal and external accountability in the security and justice sectors, greater independence of the judiciary and police, and incorporation of civilian oversight. President Yanukovych’s appointment in 2010 signalled a period of increased centralisation that echoed earlier efforts to that effect under President Kuchma in 1997, rolling back on local control over numerous government decisions. Since the election of Poroshenko, the government has stated that decentralisation is considered a top priority. On 31 August, 2015 the Rada passed the first measures to decentralise the government. These would give local councils the right to establish executive offices, grant equal rights to all local communities and establish a provision for the president —acting through local representatives known as prefects— to dissolve local councils or overrule their decisions. These measures are perceived as highly controversial, potentially paving the way for greater autonomy for the Eastern Regions of Ukraine. While decentralisation is seen as improving service delivery at local level, the political commitment to implementing a decentralisation process has remained uneven and there is no consensus on how it should be implemented in practice. While some progress has been made, including fiscal decentralisation, the Rada in particular has blocked key constitutional amendments related to decentralisation.  

b. Corruption

Although Ukraine became a party to the United Nations Conventions Against Corruption (UNCAC) in 2010, before December 2010 there were no effective anti-corruption laws in the country, except for a clause in its criminal and administrative codes (UNCAC, 2011). In 2011, only eight of 112 of the activities of the State Anti-Corruption Programmes were financed. UNCAC cited immunity from prosecution for parliament members as a major weakness in their justice and governance mechanisms. This fell in line with citizen’s beliefs that the most corrupt members of society were typically the judiciary, police, public officials and parliament. Additionally, 59% of the population perceived their government’s effort to fight corruption as inefficient. The Corruption Perceptions Index 2016 by Transparency International ranked Ukraine 131st out of 176 countries.

The 2020 strategy aims at positioning the country within the top 50 countries on corruption by 2020. In response, the Parliament passed anti-corruption legislation. In addition, parallel structures and mechanisms including the National Anti-Corruption Strategy for 2014-2017, the National Council on Anti-Corruption Bureau, the National Agency for Corruption Prevention and the National Anti-Corruption Bureau were established.8  It should be noted that the Anti-Corruption Strategy was developed in close cooperation with civil society and was preceded by public consultations. Additionally, the National Anti-Corruption Bureau head was selected in an “open, competitive, and transparent selection process” (NABU, 2017).

c. Civil Society Engagement and Civilian Oversight

In 2012, USAID cited limited funding opportunities and a weak economy as factors hindering CSO activities. Many CSOs struggled with inadequate resources, uncompetitive salaries, and low public motivation. While CSOs did engage in steering committees on both the national and local level, it was estimated that only 9% of the 71,000 CSOs in Ukraine were active, and over 70% believed their government did not listen to their demands (USAID, 2012). As a result, the new regime seeks to improve the engagement of civil society. Civil society has acted as the driving force behind many of the steps taken towards anti-corruption. Activities such as GURT Resource Centre’s open forums and the Ukraine National Initiatives to Enhance Reforms (UNITER) project looked to increase both operational and financial capacity of CSOs. Civil Society has additionally been consulted in reform processes including the anti-corruption package of laws adopted in October 2014, while additionally serving as a member of the commission for Constitutional Reform and Judicial Reform. It should be noted however that opponents of Constitutional Reform have stated that the process remains top-down and has not included sufficient consultation with civil society and the general public (CEIP, 2015). Finally, externally backed SSR programmes have been developed to facilitate the reform and integration of civil society. 

ii. Defence Sector Reform

a. Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF)

Ukraine initiated its first defence sector reform process in 1991 alongside many of its European counterparts. The overall focus of the reform was to downsize and then professionalise the Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF). In 2010, NATO facilitated the Strategic Defence Review (SDR) and helped develop a new defence planning system. The defence planning system —which was completed in 2010 and supported by NATO experts— developed Ukraine’s Strategic Defence Bulletin implemented in 2016 (NATO, 2016).

Since the outbreak of conflict, advisers to the President have expressed increasing concern regarding the recruitment, quality of personnel, and professionalisation on part of soldiers. The lack of strong government financing from the onset, as well as UAF’s recruitment methods has hindered the efficiency of the UAF. Reports of “mass violations of military discipline,” particularly desertion, alcoholism, and a failure to execute commanding orders, have been cited as major problems (Global Security, 2015). The insufficiency of combat training as well as outdated equipment has done little to improve the quality of soldiers. Additionally, conditions for mobilisation deteriorated, as stalls in regional offices increased due to conscription dodging. Military commissioners have been accused of corruption and incompetency as incidents of bribery have increased and become systematic (Global Security, 2015). Reforms have been undertaken to address these issues, and in January 2017, the United Kingdom pledged to expand their support, to train 5000 UAF personnel by March 2017 (UK Defence Journal, 2017).

As outlined in the Ukraine 2020 Strategy, the Ukrainian government hopes that by 2020, there will be 560,000 active military personnel with a defence budget —which sits at 1.02%— that will triple to 3%. The aim is to have 5.6 soldiers per 1000 inhabitants. Women have been included in the mobilisation plans, with over 100 women mobilised in 2014, and the Ukrainian government has affirmed its commitment to removing barriers to women in the armed forces. Between 2014 and February 2016, there have been six mobilisation waves to respond to the crisis in Eastern Ukraine. In August 2016, a possible seventh wave of mobilisation to replace deserters was announced, but has not been carried out. According to the Ministry of Defence, 26,800 military staff were subject to prosecution for avoiding military service in February 2016 (UK, 2016).  Additionally, in order to improve oversight, a Committee on National Security and Defence has taken on the primary responsibility of defence and security related issues. The Committee frequently invited active participation from civil society for input into legislative proposals and drafts. 

b. Security Service of Ukraine (SBU)

Established in 1992, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) is Ukraine's counterintelligence unit, developed with the specific purpose of protecting the national security of Ukraine through law enforcement. It is authorised by the government body in spheres of counterintelligence activity and the protection of state secrets, as well as the main agency combating domestic terrorism. The Rada is primarily responsible for the oversight of the SBU, and the head of the SBU must regularly report to the Committee on SBU, the National Security and Defence Council, and —wherever relevant— the Sub-Committee on Organised crime. The SBU additionally has its own detention facilities for individuals suspected of terrorist attacks.9

In 2014, there were over 30,000 employees working for the SBU (RIEAS, 2014). Despite various reporting and oversight mechanisms put in place, reports of a lack of reform and poor accountability have been raised. Valeriva Lutkovska, Human Rights Ombudsperson, released statements expressing “deep concern” regarding numerous attacks on civil society members, activists and journalists. Since the Maidan protests, Lutkovska stated that she has received dozens of petitions during the year about harassment and attacks on organizers, co-organizers, and activists involved in anti-government protestors (US Department of State, 2014). While the Ukraine 2020 strategy outlines various reforms within the security sector, little attention is given to the SBU within its reform programmes. Laws about SBU reforms are to be submitted to the Rada in 2017, and reforms should be implemented by 2020 (112 UA, 2016).

c. Border Guard Service

Created in 2003, the Border Guard Service (BGS) is mandated with the task of protecting and ensuring control of the borders. This includes protecting the sea and ports, via the Ukrainian Sea Guard, as well as managing "Temporary Detention Centres", in which refugees are held. The head of the BGS falls under the State Committee in Affairs for Protection of the State Border, reports directly to the Office of the President and is considered part of the UAF during periods of crisis. As a result, the BGS is considered heavily militarised, with a military rank structure in place as well as a management system which has yet to be reformed. 

As of 2015, 10 % of the BGS personnel were trained to cooperate with military forces in the conflict area, yet the BGS was experiencing increased fighting along the Eastern borders (EEAS, 2015).  Due to the conflict occurring in the East, significant resource allocation has been redirected towards ATO efforts.

As a result, the Ukrainian Government in collaboration with the EEAS and the Border Management Assistance Group (BMAG) hopes to take the necessary steps to improve the BGS. The BMAG plans to reduce the amount of corruption within the BGS through transparent oversight mechanisms, establish Mobile Units, improve collaboration with law enforcement10  and further implement European practices of border protection. The BGS worked under the direction of Action Plan on EU Visa Regime Liberalization for Ukraine and the Border Guard Service Enforcement Action Plan. According to a public European Union Advisory Mission survey, the BGS is one of the most trusted state agencies in Ukraine, having already undertaken reforms such as the Integrated Border Management Action Plan in September 2016 (EUAM, 2017).

iii. Police Reform

After independence, Ukraine’s policing institutions and structures still resembled the old Soviet model, composed mainly of traffic police, the militarised wing, and local law enforcement units that work on a community level.  Euromaidan highlighted excessive use of police force, a lack of respect for human dignity, high levels of corruption and the employment of torture tactics —especially by the Berkut (Ukrainian Special Police Forces). Additionally, the police have poor response rates. As a result, although Ukraine has one of the highest numbers of police per capita in Europe (376 per 100,000), a government policy paper stated that only 26% of the population trusts the police (Freedom House, 2015). In addition, members of the police cite improper pay within the forces with 53% of the police staff in Kyiv, Kharkiv and Odesa oblasts stating that their income is only enough to eat, and 22% stating that it was not enough to live (KHPG, 2015). In the past, there have been multiple attempts at reform, however little effort was made to incorporate external and civil perspectives, resulting in reforms that did not meet the needs of the people.

A Strategy for Development of the Ministry of Interior was approved in October 2014. With the participation and leading role of Ukrainian NGOs, the strategy planned the restructuring of several MoI structures and units, envisioned new forms of financial autonomy for the police and human resource management system, and the demilitarisation of the police. Additionally, the Government developed a National Public Platform “Reforming MoI: Transparency and Accountability,” which would serve as an oversight and advisory mechanism of the Strategy for Development of the Ministry of Interior. Some have criticised the plan for its lack of competitive recruitment procedures for high level positions, the maintenance of a military structure, and the continued oversize police force with low wages (KHPG, 2015; KPHG, 2016).

The document ‘One hundred days of quality of the national police’, published on 19 November 2015, became the driving force for police reform. Through six projects, it introduced qualitative evaluations of policing with the intention of creating a new brand of accountable police leaders and managers, free from corruption. Thousands of police officers were dismissed and it was feared that a number of these would become engaged in organised crime against the establishment.

In August, 2015, the “Law on National Police” established the National Police of Ukraine to replace the militsya . The new structure was placed under the Minister of Internal Affairs and composed of Criminal Police, Patrol Police, Police Protection Service, Special Police Units, and Territorial Police. With this new law and model in place, the government intended to tackle corruption within the police force, incorporate principals of community policing, employ a greater number of women into the police force and improve public perception. Additionally, a trust-building project called My New Police was being carried out by US Department of State's Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs and was implemented by IREX, in partnership with the International Development Law Organization, to create public dialogue about the reforms, implementation progress, and impact on the population in Lviv (IREX, 2016). In November 2015, the Ukrainian police force consisted of 159,000 police, with 2,000 newly recruited police officers, 30 % of which were women, to form the Ukrainian Patrol Police.11  With the combined changes in place, the Ukraine Strategy 2020 aspires that public trust in police would increase. Khatia Dekanoidze, a Georgian politician and head of the police forces resigned in November 2016 due to lack of funding and resources, absence of reform of the prosecution system and courts, and political interference in the NPU.12

Part of the police reform programme included the introduction of Patrol Police, a new response service that, since July 2015, had been incrementally launched in various oblasts around Ukraine. The Patrol Police operates in the city centres and is accountable directly to the senior team in Kyiv and not to the local regional head of police. Much faith has been placed in the Patrol Police as the flagship of the police service that aimed, along with new innovations in the police, to promote honesty and professionalism across the service. Unlike their regional colleagues, who are responsible for policing outside of the city centres, the Patrol Police is well resourced, its officers are educated, and they are well paid to dissuade them from corrupt practices. The current situation creates a two-tier policing arrangement and a level of tension between the two entities.

Beginning in 2015 the EUAM began to train the Patrol Police in community policing techniques, introducing officers to the concepts of community policing and then training them up to be trainers to their colleagues. Whilst there are ad-hoc examples of police officers engaging with the community, such as visits to schools, there is little evidence that it has been systematically deployed. The challenges facing the effective roll out of community policing are two-fold. The first challenge is related with the weak notion of ‘community’ in Ukraine as a result of the communist political culture determining the relation between the individual, society and the authorities. Secondly, there is a lack of legislation to shift the concept of accountability for policing away from the police and to the community. 

iv. Justice Reform

Only 12% of the Ukrainian citizens report having trust in the judicial system, which is, perceived as being corrupt and subject to political interference (OECD, 2014). This is the lowest confidence rate among OECD countries. In addition, Ukraine has the highest number of pending cases at the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) – as of 31 December 2016, Ukraine represented 22.8% of all pending cases. Of the 73 judgments delivered by the court in 2016, 70 found at least one violation of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR, 2017). 

In this context, and under pressure from civil society, Justice Reform Sector has been on the political agenda since 2014. Thus, a series of legislative developments have been adopted to try to restore trust in the judiciary (2014), ensure the right to a fair trial (2015), reform the status of judges (June 2016) and improve the enforcement of judicial decisions (July 2016). 

Echoing these legislative developments, the government adopted a Justice Sector Reform Strategy (JSRS) and its subsequent Action Plan for the period 2015-2020. These strategic documents are articulated around 12 chapters primarily focusing on the promotion of the good governance and the reinforcement of the efficiency of the justice sector. The outlined reforms in the strategy are considered as the most ambitious reform agenda in the sector to date. One of the key new reforms in the sector includes the introduction of a new full scale probation service, introduction of vetting processes for prosecutors and judges, promulgation of new procedural codes (eg. criminal), and revising the system of appointment/promotion and dismissal of judges. Compared to judiciary and penitentiary reform, reform of the prosecution has effectively stalled. 

v. Prison Reform

The 2015-2020 Justice Sector Reform Strategy and its corresponding action plan identify the development of probation services and a probation authority amongst the priorities of the strategy (Ukraine, 2015). In 2015, the Law on Probation was adopted and further amended in 2016 to incorporate full scale probation functions, including pre-sentencing reports, probation supervision, and probation offender rehabilitation programmes. Starting in May 2015, the Norwegian government has been supporting the Ukrainian probation initiative through continuous dialogue and providing expertise (KVS, 2015; KVS, 2015; KVS, 2016). The EU project “Support to Justice Sector Reforms in Ukraine” also contributes to establishing the new probation system, and has identified the main tasks in the implementation of the 2015 law on probation: establishing reparations practices by sentencing offenders to community work; launching rehabilitation programs to help changing behaviour of the offenders; supervision of those who represent high risk for society after release on parole; retraining of the State Penitentiary Service staff (EU, 2016). 

Moreover, the Council of Europe is supporting the 3-year project “Further Support for the Penitentiary Reform in Ukraine” to strengthen the observation of human rights and the rule of law in treatment of prisoners in Ukraine (COE, 2017). The project will run until 31 December 2017, with an overall budget of EUR 1,000,000, funded by the European Union, co-funded by the Council of Europe, under the auspices of the EU/CoE Programmatic Co-operation Framework in the Eastern Partnership countries (COE, 2017). So far, accomplishments include the development of methodologies for social and life skills courses and their implementation in pilot prisons. Additionally, the project will produce a prison management manual and guidelines on the prevention of suicide and self-harm, as well as on the basic dynamic security policy to be approved and adopted on the national level (COE, 2017).

Return to top

5. Future Considerations

Since the election of President Poroshenko, efforts towards reform in CSO and NGO engagement, SSR implementation within the government as well as police and rule of law reforms have been established and supported by external actors. As recognized by both Ukraine and external donors, CSO engagement and local engagement in the process of the reform is proving critical, especially during the process of reconciliation. How to ensure that civil sector incorporation is holistic and integrated throughout the security sector is still an open question. Additionally, because there are a number of external actors working throughout Ukraine on a number of development objectives, coordination will likely be a continued challenge. This includes not only how the international community supports local and national reform processes, but also how to coordinate with other actors on the ground so as to not hinder the development and reform processes. 

Return to top

6. Appendix

i. List of Acronyms

ATO Anti-terrorist operations
BGS Boarder Guard Service
BMAG Border Management Assistance Group
CENAA Centre for European and North Atlantic Affairs
CSO Civil Society Organisations
DCAF Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces
DCFTA Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade
EU European Union
EUAM EU Advisory Mission for Civil Sector Reform
EUBAM EU Border Assistance Mission
IDP Internal Displaced Persons
JWDGR Joint Working Group on Defence Reform
NATO North Atlantic Treaty Organization
NGO Non-Governmental Organisation
PRP Planning Review Process
SALW Small Arms Light Weapons
SDR Strategic Defence Review
UAF Ukrainian Armed Forces
UNCAC United Nations Conventions Against Corruption
UNITER Ukraine National initiatives to Enhance Reforms
USSR Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
V4 Visegrad group

Return to top 

7. Additional Resources

DCAF, Razumkov Centre and Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, Ukraine Democratic Security Sector Governance ,  2017.

DCAF, Security Sector Reform in Ukraine: Quo Vadis? ,  2010.

European Union External Action, “Factsheet: EU-Ukraine relations,” Feb. 15, 2015.

International Crisis Group, “The Ukraine Crisis: Risks of Renewed Military Conflict after Minsk II,” 1 April, 2015.

 “Ukraine 2020 Strategy,” 2015.

Ukraine Judiciary Development Strategy 2015-2020,” December 2014. 

Endnotes 

[1] http://www.economist.com/news/finance-and-economics/21684171-economy-although-improving-remains-parlous-state-still-edge(2 March 2016).

[2] http://www.newsweek.com/ukraine-president-petro-poroshenko-return-full-scale-fighting-430037 (26.02.16).

[3] https://ec.europa.eu/echo/files/aid/countries/factsheets/ukraine_en.pdf.

[4] The Council of Europe Convention on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings highlighted steps needed to be taken by Ukraine.

[5] This will further be discussed under the SSR- A Sectoral Overview in the Governance section. 

[6] https://ec.europa.eu/echo/files/aid/countries/factsheets/ukraine_en.pdf.

[7] The Four Pillars are: Sustainable Development of the country, Security of the country, business and people, Responsibility and social justice, Pride for Ukraine in Europe and the world. In terms of the security pillar, the roadmap outlines strategic areas of reform including: Reform of the National Security and Defence System, Military-Industrial Complex Reform, Judicial Reform, Anti-Corruption Reform and Lustration, and Reform of Law Enforcement system. Additionally, a pillar on the Responsibility to Social Justice outlines strategic areas of reform including: Decentralization and State Government Reform, Regional Policy Region, National Unity Reform and Support for Minorities, Constitutional Reform, and Election Legislation Reform.

[8] The National Agency for Corruption Prevention is under the Government and the National Council for Anti-Corruption Bureau falls under the National Council on Anti-Corruption Policy and is an advisory body under the President. Key appointments to the National Anti-corruption Bureau were made by 2016 and the NABU took up its operations.

[9] For example, on 28 February, 2015 the SBU detained three people who committed a terrorist act during the March of Dignity in Kharkiv. http://uacrisis.org/18990-andrijj-lisenko-48.

[10] The BGS does not have investigative powers for border related crime. As present this responsibility falls under the jurisdiction of the police or SBU. 

[11] As of November 2015, the Law is still undergoing implementation and has not rolled out all of its new reforms.

[12] http://www.interpretermag.com/day-1001/ 21.05.17

The International Security Sector Advisory Team

The International Security Sector Advisory Team (ISSAT) provides practical support to the international community in its efforts to improve security and justice, primarily in conflict-affected and fragile states. It does this by working with a group of member states and institutions to develop and promote good security and justice reform practices and principles, and by helping its members to build their capacity to support national and regional security and justice reform processes.

Organisation