E-declarations and its usage – UkraineSeptember 10, 2016
Despite the unnecessarily fumbled launch of the e-declaration system for Ukrainian politicians, public servants and judiciary – and despite the fact it has now been launched (again) with effect from 1st September now duly certificated, but with some technical issues still unresolved, it does appear that the system is working to some degree at a practical level with regard to corruption prevention for those that require reappointment/re-certification (judiciary, some civil servants, etc.).
“We tested more than a thousand judges who were on re-certification and 30% of judges were not reassigned to positions due verification of declarations.
The system actually worked, and will be actively used in conjunction with the National Agency for Prevention of Corruption” – A.Sytnik, Director, National Anti-Corruption Bureau.
Very good. Support for NABU and NAPC has to remain robust if they are to overcome the entrenched vested interests that they are up against. Likewise, when the e-declaration system is eventually without system integrity and functionality issues, it will be a very robust tool.
But is the e-declaration tool only to be employed within the remit of NABU and NAPC anti-corruption crusade?
There may also be some other legitimate and ethical uses for the information held upon the e-declaration system – specifically relating to the political class.
Within this month’s issue of The Odessa Review, the blog threw together a few lines regarding the ethical void within Ukrainian politics, and the requirement to arrive at some form of officially recognised Code of Ethics for parliamentarians (as well as disciplinary possibilities for those that chose to violate and/or simply ignore such a Code).
For those interested the article can be found on pages 34 and 35, offering a few broad brush strokes regarding issues and some possible remedies. Within the text can be found the following few lines – “There are numerous areas of overlap between anti-corruption legislation and any future parliamentary ethics code. Conflicts of interests, lobbying, advocacy, vested interests……do not constitute an exhaustive list of issues where ethical and legislative can be smudged.”
It is inevitable that sooner or later a parliamentary Code of Ethics will appear. It is equally inevitable that some parliamentarians will spend far more time and effort trying to manipulate such a Code than the time they spend running the country. The same will be true of e-declarations. There is no perfect system, and there are no limitations to the ingenuity of those that try to circumvent and/or undermine any system to their own advantage.
However, when a parliamentary Code of Ethics eventually appears, together with a parliamentary ethics (and disciplinary) committee, if the ethics committee have access to all parliamentary e-declarations then the conflicts of interests (or perhaps better stated, the lobbying to sit upon parliamentary committees that oversee the vested interests of those trying to get placed within the relevant parliamentary committee) would be abundantly clear to an ethics committee that then could and should publicly raise any conflict of interest – or simply prevent it.
The aim therefore to employ information within e-declarations of parliamentarians to insure no conflicts of interest for members within any parliamentary committee – or certainly prevent nefariously hidden/masked conflicts of interest.
A default position may be that any potential or existing conflict of interest prevents membership of any relevant parliamentary committee and/or would require resignation from a parliamentary committee should conflicts arise after assuming committee membership. Any exceptions would require a public ethics committee debate.
Naturally this does not mean that vested interests will fail within the Verkhovna Rada, for those vested interests can still buy/rent the necessary parliamentary votes to protect their scams and schemes. The point is to make defending/expanding those vested interests more difficult (and/or expensive) to achieve every single step of the way – and any Code of Ethics should have something to say about selling/renting an MP’s parliamentary vote and the consequences thereof.
Perhaps a consideration for the (hopefully fairly immediate) future when the existing void of Verkhovna Rada ethics will inevitably be tackled?