On October 24-25, the working group on the development of guideline for conducting public consultations in Ukraine held its first meeting as part of the project of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights.
The purpose of the meeting is to develop a guideline on the draft law on public consultation with regard to the objectives, scope, target audience, format, approval, performance and other aspects of consultation and public participation in policies and decisions.
Alice Thomas, Chief of ODIHR’s Legislative Support Unit, told about the experience in implementing the guideline of the OSCE in Moldova, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan.
“Often the same representatives of civil society are involved in discussing various issues. Unfortunately, in many cases, citizens learn about the negative effects of a new law only after its adoption.”
Deputy Chairman of the Agency for Legislative Initiatives Oleksandr Zaslavskyi presented the study concerning the involvement of NGOs in the work of parliamentary committees, which was used as a reference document for discussions in the working group. Mr. Zaslavskyi pointed out,
“It is important to move from discussing ready draft decisions and legally finalized documents to discussing the problems themselves. At the stage of reviewing texts, the public is faced with legal “casuistry”. Very often, the problem that the law is supposed to deal with is quite different. Therefore, it is necessary to involve the public in public discussions at the stage of problem identification rather than to the final discussion of ready texts.
Based on the results of the study, O. Zaslavskyi identified the following problems with public consultations in Ukraine:
- Lack of systematicity;
- Lack of professional and technical support of the authorities for conducting public consultations, as well as of means for communicating information;
- Synchronization of work between different authorities;
- Citizens need to learn existing tools. Very often, citizens address various authorities to issues that are beyond their jurisdiction;
- Lack of statistics concerning advocacy results. Citizens do not know the real impact of public consultation, and whether there are any results of taking into account the “voice of the people”;
- The illusion of “fast solutions”. On average, it takes several months to get a message across.
As a result, the working group decided to work out and discuss the guideline. The first version of the guideline will be written online by the experts of the Agency for Legislative Initiatives.