On February 4, with the support of the Peace and Stabilization Operations Program of Global Affairs Canada, the Parliamentary Centre and the Agency for Legislative Initiatives launched a project Parliamentary Accountability for the Security Sector in Ukraine.
This project aims to promote peace and stability in Ukraine by supporting the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine (VRU) to play its central role in formulating, implementing, monitoring and reforming security policy.
The main stakeholders of the project took part in the event. In particular, the event was attended by representatives of the two parliamentary committees of the Verkhovna Rada, with which the Agency and the PArliamentary Centre will work closely during the project – members of the Security, Defense and Intelligence Committee and the Law Enforcement Committee – as well as other Ukrainian MPs, Canadian MPs, H.E. Ambassador of Canada to Ukraine and the H.E. Ambassador of Ukraine to Canada.
During the event, the participants expressed hope for productive cooperation between the Canadian and Ukrainian sides for the sake of achieving peace, security, and stability in Ukraine.
Dmytro Razumkov, Chairperson of The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, noted that issues of national security have become one of the key issues on the agenda of society and the state in Ukraine.
“Parliament has set a course for NATO and the EU in the Constitution, and this vector will not change. However, it is very important to continue reforms in the security and defense sector. And this applies not only to the front and the Ukrainian army but also to law enforcement activities within the state. I am confident that in the future, thanks to mutual assistance, additional recommendations and proposals, exchange of experience, we will be able to fulfill the tasks we set for ourselves”, – said the Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada.
Olena Kondratiuk, Deputy Chairperson of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, stressed the importance of taking into account the gender aspect in the reform of the defense sector. The speaker noted that Ukraine has consistently implemented the National Action Plan for the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 “Women, Peace & Security”, which is part of the government’s strategy. The parliament of the previous convocation passed a number of laws that opened more opportunities for women to exercise in the military.
“At the same time, I would like to draw attention to the still unequal participation of women and men in the peace process and in decision-making in the defense sector. For Ukraine, the introduction of gender quotas in the management and Supervisory Boards of all state-owned enterprises, including in the defense sector, is important. It is important to introduce gender-oriented budgeting in the security and defense sector, to take into account at the financial and organizational level all the sensitive and special needs of women in armed forces”, – Olena Kondratiuk explained.
In turn, Larisa Galadza, H.E. Ambassador of Canada to Ukraine, is confident that the Canadian experience will help Ukraine in defense sector reform. In addition, she noted the special role of parliament in the reform process.
“Canada supports this project because we understand that security, defense, and law enforcement are not just the executive branch. It is in these areas, where the state has the strongest power, that strong democratic control must also be ensured. This control is needed not only after the reform but also at the stage of policy formulation and implementation in the security sector”, – the speaker said.
Andriy Shevchenko, H.E. Ambassador of Ukraine to Canada, also believes that the project “Parliamentary Accountability for the Security Sector in Ukraine” will have a positive impact for both parties:
“I see a lot of benefits from this project for both Ukraine and Canada. First, the project is a complement to existing security cooperation. Secondly, the project should strengthen Ukrainian parliamentarism – both at the level of policy development, and at the level of changes in legislation, and at the level of the control function of the parliament”
Tom Cormier, CEO of the Parliamentary Centre, spoke about the mission of the Canadian Parliamentary Centre and stressed the importance of helping the parliaments in democratic countries.
“Parliaments have the potential to make important changes that can help overcome the biggest challenges facing society. Especially if these parliaments have connections with the people they serve for if they are supported by professionals, informed by evidence-based research, working with their counterparts in other countries, and having a constructive relationship with the executive branch. We are pleased that this project will focus on achieving all these important goals”, – said Tom Cormier.
Svitlana Matviienko, Executive Director of the Agency for Legislative Initiatives, noted that the idea of the project has been developed together with representatives of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine so that the project would be of maximum benefit to the parliament of this and future convocations.
“We are very pleased with this partnership. The Agency has been closely involved in the Ukrainian parliament for more than two decades. We hope that this project will not only have an impact on the processes taking place in Ukraine now, but the project will help the next convocations. Inter-parliamentary dialogue is extremely important”, – the speaker said.
Oleksandr Zavitnevych, Chairperson of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Security, Defense and Intelligence, and Denys Monastyrskyi, Chairperson of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Law Enforcement, also expressed their expectations regarding the project.
“We understand the responsibility of our committee in security and defense sector reform. The most well-known problems now are the reform of Ukroboronprom, the creation of an effective management system in the field of defense and industry, the reform of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), special services, as well as the development of defense and security capabilities based on NATO standards. I hope that this project will be one of the steps in cooperation with civil society and will contribute to the development of a system of civil control“, – said Oleksandr Zavitnevych.
Denys Monastyrskyi, Chairperson of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Law Enforcement, also stressed the importance of strengthening parliamentary control as one of the levers in the reform process.
“Our committee is considering hundreds of draft laws during the session. Of course, there is always the question of strengthening parliamentary control and the committee’s ability to exercise that control. Our committee and other MPs are ready to cooperate. I think that later we will be able to say about the progress of specific draft laws that will help increase the efficiency of law enforcement agencies in Ukraine”, – he said.
A colleague of Ukrainian parliamentarians from Canada, Yvan Baker, MP, Chairperson of the Canada-Ukraine Parliamentary Friendship Group, said that Canada has always supported Ukraine, especially in matters of security and sovereignty of Ukraine.
“Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland often says, ‘Canadian parliamentarians from different parties disagree on many issues, but we are all united in our support for Ukraine’. Canada cooperates with Ukraine in many areas: economic development, military support, trade and investment, and more. One of the reasons for such deep ties between Ukraine and Canada is the large Ukrainian diaspora, whose representatives are very worried about what is happening in Ukraine”, – the speaker explained.
Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze, MP, Chairwoman of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Ukraine’s Integration into the European Union, Member of the Interparliamentary Relations Group with Canada, also noted that Ukraine needs substantial expert support from the Canadian side to continue the path of comprehensive reform.
“It is important to continue parliamentary work and improve control mechanisms and their use. In addition, gender equality is not just about statistics, representation, and quantitative indicators. It is also about the value component, institutions, and change of culture, so this task is not for one or two years”, – the MP said.
Anita Vandenbeld, Member of the House of Commons of Canada, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Defense of Canada, said that cooperation within the project is very important because in this way Canadian and Ukrainian MPs will be able to share best practices bilaterally. She also called for a gender component to be included in the discussions on defense sector reform, as the inclusion of women in the dialogue could help to look at the problem from a different angle and find new solutions.
“Why is it important to mention gender when we talk about security and defense? Women experience conflicts differently. The military aggression has the greatest impact on women and children. Women also play a key role in post-conflict reconstruction. This is confirmed statistically: when women participate in peace negotiations, peace agreements and stability last much longer. It also works in another direction – we need to involve men in committees on women’s issues. Different backgrounds, different experiences are really important for solving complex problems“, – shared Anita Vandenbeld.
At the end of the opening event, the Director of the Analytical Department of the Agency Oleksandr Zaslavskyi and the Director of the Partnerships and Program Development of the Parliamentary Centre Ivo Balinov spoke in detail about the essence, stages, and components of the project “Parliamentary Accountability for the Security Sector in Ukraine”.
“An important component of the project is to support the decision-making process, much of which passes through the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. The key role in the reform of the security sector by the Verkhovna Rada is played by two committees – the Committee on Security, Defense and Intelligence and the Committee on Law Enforcement. We are aware that these are two different reforms in terms of content. However, they are united by one goal – to ensure peace, stability and territorial integrity in Ukraine, including by advancing Ukraine in the Euro-Atlantic direction”, – said Oleksandr Zaslavskyi.
In turn, Ivo Balinov noted that the Agency and the Parliamentary Centre are ready to cooperate with other projects that Canada is implementing in Ukraine in the security and defense sector.
“There are many projects in Ukraine – with the support of Canada and other Euro-Atlantic partners – that focus on various aspects of defense sector reform. These are projects that cooperate with the National Police and projects aimed directly at the defense industry. Therefore, we are open to cooperation with these projects for the benefit of Ukraine“, – the speaker summed up.
The participants of the event expressed their readiness for fruitful cooperation during the implementation of the project “Parliamentary Accountability for the Security Sector in Ukraine”. All in order for the security sector reform in Ukraine to continue to move in the right direction, and for the defense industry to continue to develop according to the best international standards.