Building the capacity of civil society to supervise the security sector in Ukraine

Valentyn Badrak, the Board Member of USSI, the Director of Center for Army, Conversion and Disarmament Studies participated “Building the capacity of civil society to supervise the security sector in Ukraine”, the joint project of CACDS with the Center for European Security Studies (The Netherlands), supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands.

In the joint document, the experts confirmed that Ukraine has numerous and active civil society. It flourished and expanded after the Euromaidan (or the Revolution of Dignity) and took an active position when Ukraine’s statehood was threatened in 2014. Today, Ukrainian civil society organizations (CSOs) actively support different communities in society; provide expert assistance to inform local and national policy; and can control the reform process and broader government policies and spending. In recent years, the reforms have weakened and that influenced the civil society activity. The reformatting of the Ukrainian leadership with the coming into power of the new president, government and parliament will hopefully also restart democratic reforms and strengthen the functions of civil society participation and oversight.

The role of civil society in the security sector of Ukraine deserves further attention, in particular because the country remains involved in a low-fatality war in part of its territory. Ukrainian civil society plays an active role in defense policy supervision, but is not very active in other security sectors, such as intelligence. The ability of civil society to control, and sometimes help to govern, largely depends on the transparency and accountability of the government and its willingness to work with civil society partners; the more democratic the government, the stronger the civil society. However, civil society itself can also improve its own ability to influence Ukraine’s policies by becoming more aware of its oversight; more experienced in dealing with Parliament and other supervisory institutions; and increasingly capable of developing new surveillance tools and mechanisms.

Key study results:

  • Civil society in Ukraine is thriving despite of increasing challenges for civil societies around the world. Ukraine’s civil society has played a role in the supervision of security and defense policy, but it has become more established and less active, as state reforms have slowed in recent years.
  • Civil society itself can improve its ability to influence Security and defense Ukraine’s policies by becoming more aware of its oversight; more experienced in dealing with Parliament and other supervisory institutions; and increasingly capable of developing new surveillance tools and mechanisms.
  • The reformatting of the Ukrainian leadership with the coming into power of the new president, government and parliament will hopefully also restart democratic reforms and strengthen the functions of civil society participation and oversight.

To download the “Building the capacity of civil society to supervise the security sector in Ukraine”.