“Preventing, Fighting, Acting” – almost a thousand of delegates gather to discuss anti-corruption efforts in Ukraine

Kyiv, 16 November 2015 – The largest anti-corruption conference in Ukraine welcomes its 900+ guests to discuss most pertinent aspects of Ukraine's "second front" – the fight against corruption.

Anti 16112015"If I were given six hours to chop down a tree, I would spend four of those sharpening my axe" – with these words the Ukrainian President opened the largest Ukrainian anti-corruption forum – International Conference "Preventing, Fighting, Acting" that welcomed its guests from over 15 countries.
The international anti-corruption conference was organized by the Anti-Corruption Task Force of the National Reform Council lead by the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine. UNDP became one of the core co-organizers for the event that gathered state officials, international practitioners, civic activists, and business-people from across the globe.
One of the main tasks of the Conference was to take honest stock of developments in the anti-corruption sphere in the last 18 months, to assess the progress, but also to discuss remaining gaps and deficiencies that result in wide citizens' dissatisfaction with the pace of reform.
The Conference became a discussion panel for looking beyond the new legislation and emerging institutions into actual preventive and investigative work. The agenda of the Conference may be found here.
photo PPAttended by the highest authorities of the state, the Conference was launched by the opening remarks from President Poroshenko. It was him, who, quoting Abraham Lincoln, noted that sufficient time should be given to thorough preparation for something as complex as fighting corruption. President also dwelt on progress made in establishing the anti-corruption institutions that would have to become this "sharpened axe" against corruption in the country.
While the National Anticorruption Bureau was already in place and actively building up its internal structure and capacity, appointment of the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor would be expected before 1 December, and selection of the 5 members of the National Agency for Prevention of Corruption was nearing its completion. Looking further ahead, Petro Poroshenko saw the biggest remaining problems in the judiciary, expressing hope that relevant constitutional amendments could create a system independent of political influence and able to sentence corruption offenders in earnest.
photo AYPrime Minister Yatseniuk also dwelt on some of the progress made in fighting corruption, citing improvements in the oil and gas sector, elimination of previously flourishing schemes for shadow privatization and implementing lustration law to over 700 former high-level officials. He also noted progress made by the Ministry of Justice in opening up state registries, and opportunities for reducing political corruption through tougher control over party funding and substitution of oligarchic donations with state support.
One of the crucial points emphasized by the Prime Minster had to deal with extremely low salaries of civil servants, as he called to the European partners to help establish a top-up fund for attracting qualified and willing professionals from all sectors to civil service. He also suggested that a permanent international anti-corruption mission should be established with the purpose of assisting Ukrainian investigators to uproot corruption schemes with use of best western experience.
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The opening of the conference was followed by a high-level expert discussion on most burning problems of anticorruption transformations for Ukraine. Amongst these was Mr. Arkan el Seblani, Chief Technical Adviser, Anti-Corruption and Integrity for UNDP Arab region. He shared with the audience not only some of the core ingredients for Ukraine's success or failure, but also emphasized the importance of using preventive mechanisms to ensure, as much as possible, that there would not be any corruption to eliminate in first place. The interview that he gave that day may be found here.
The high-level panel was followed by the 6 breakout sessions dedicated to corruption prevention, investigation and prosecution, return of stolen assets, building zero-tolerance to corruption, engaging businesses and mainstreaming reform into the regional change-processes.
photo 4The preventive panel, led by UNDP, witnessed presentations on systems of asset declaration collection and verification, anti-corruption learning for the civil servants, design of anticorruption strategies, introducing effective legislation to regulate political party funding, as well as performance under regional peer-review mechanisms such as the Istanbul Anti-Corruption Action Plan. This section explored experiences from Latvia, France and Romania adapted to the Ukrainian context and shaped so as to address local challenges.

UNDP has also shared its experience of nurturing local anti-corruption initiatives during the session dealing with building zero tolerance to corruption. Practical experiences and some of the very tangible quick wins were shared with the audience, including a case where a local organization stopped just under UAH 30 million in dubious public procurement contracts that could have unduly benefitted corruption scheme instigators.
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The closing conference keynote addresses came from the Minister of Justice, Ambassadors of the EU and USA, Deputy Head of Presidential Administration, as well as UNDP Country Director in Ukraine. Summing up the day-long discussions at the forum, Mr. Janthomas Hiemstra dwelt on the continued need to address the sub-national dimension of anti-corruption work. Combined with the move for decentralization, the anti-corruption efforts should become more adapted to the subnational context, he noted, being in synchro with more funding and power being given to the oblasts and communities from central authorities.
UNDP assists Ukraine's anti-corruption and transparency agenda through supporting the National Agency for Prevention of Corruption, establishing the regulatory frameworks for prevention through conflict of interest rules and assets declaration, and building the capacity of civil society to address local corruption risks. In addition, UNDP is committed to promoting public administration reform and international standards of public service, effective delivery of administrative services, facilitating open budgets, and implementing open data in Ukraine.