The Council of Europe (PACE) is due to adopt yet another resolution over the democratic institutions of Ukraine on 26th January. For anybody counting, that will be the third such resolution within the past five years.
Maybe they would have made even more resolutions than that if Ukraine had not held the presidency of PACE for six months of last year. (After all it doesn’t do to criticise the nation holding the presidency over its internal democratic institutions. It would seem duplicitous when PACE is criticising others for similar failing at the same time as being under a Ukrainian presidency.)
I know what you are all thinking. Since when has duplicity ever stopped a sovereign state or supra-structure criticising another when one look in the mirror would display similar failings. Double standards is a regular cry. The question that should be asked in such circumstances is whether it is better to have and orate some standards rather than allow matters to dissolve to the point of no standards. Even if you have to be seen to be duplicitous to try and uphold standards you yourself are struggling to achieve, should you say nothing?
Anyway, this resolution will come hot on the heels of the latest Freedom House global assessment which deemed Ukraine to have regressed more than any other nation on the planet in 2011. It didn’t change Ukraine’s overall “partially free” status however.
It should also be pointed out that Ukraine was one of twenty six nations that were deemed to have gone backwards, with only twelve countries deemed to have made any progress at all. Every other nation was in effect marking time with no movement whatsoever.
Quite what those statistics infer about the world and democracy in general, I will leave to you to make your own conclusions. Prima facie, the world is far less democratic than it was in 2010 according to the Freedom House figures. Is part of the problem the need to reform current systems and therefore technocrats or autocrats actively stifle debate to accomplish what they deem necessary with the minimum of descent?
Will Italy plummet in the rankings next year due to the entire government being unelected and no democratic elections anticipated in 2012?
As always though, it is necessary to get behind the figures to discover who, what, where, when and how they are achieved.
The question therefore will be whether the Council of Europe assess Ukraine in a better light than those at Freedom House (and those who contributed to generating the statistics at Freedom House), or not. If Ukraine emerges in a better light than that cast by Freedom House, why does it?
The answer to that comes back to the who, what, where, when, why and how of compiling statistics, the personal perceptions, objectivity and bias of those who take part in submitting responses for the collation and methodology of any reporting organisation.
As you dear readers can probably tell, due to the amount of research I do and have historically done, to understand statistics, taking them at face value is never a good idea. It is always necessary to get behind the numbers.
Anyway, let us see where the Council of Europe and Freedom House meet and where they diverge on their Ukrainian democratic institutional assessments. It would have been far better if the CoE ruminations had been issued at the same time as those of Freedom House as this would have removed any influence of one entity over another, but you can’t have it all and even if you could, do such reports really make any difference to those who run Ukraine?
Of late, they seem to be standing firm to external pressures from both East and West.