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USAID places sanctions on Ukraine’s National Agency for the Prevention of Corruption (NACP)

March 28, 2017

If a reader were to define sanctions in the context of encouraging a change of behaviour, it would perhaps look something like – “An international sanction is a special form of sanction taken by one country against another. International sanctions are measures that are designed to bring a delinquent or renegade state into compliance with expected rules of conduct.  

Non-forceful international sanctions include diplomatic measures such as the withdrawal of an ambassador, the severing of diplomatic relations, or the filing of a protest with the UN, financial sanctions such as denying aid or cutting off access to financial institutions; and economic sanctions such as partial or total trade embargoes.”

Or words to that effect.

If selecting “sanctions are measures that are designed to bring a delinquent or renegade…..into compliance with expected rules of conduct” and combining it with “denying aid”, then effective immediately USAID has just placed sanctions upon Ukraine’s National Agency for the Prevention of Corruption (NAPC).

According to Justice Ministry Deputy Minister Ruslan Ryaboshapka, who is also a member of the NAPC, USAID has henceforth suspended cooperation with it.

The reason being the signing of the amendments to the e-declaration law by President Poroshenko on 27th March, despite very vocal and public statements not to sign by the UK, Canada, EU and US.

As a previous entry made clear, President Poroshenko had no choice but to sign if only to prevent unwanted issues with the military as the original legal prose stood.

That the amendments were subsequently hijacked, warped and disfigured within the Verkhovna Rada leaving the President to sign into law some very contentious military related text and perhaps untimely changes regarding civil society, is to be quite honest the fault of President Poroshenko.  It was well within his ability to have had the Verkhovna Rada deal with these amendments properly, long before legislative timelines became so critical.

The suspension of USAID cooperation will not have been a surprise to President Poroshenko, as no doubt some very blunt diplomacy took place during this entirely unnecessary spectacle.

As the law now stands the loopholes to avoid e-declarations for those that should be offered no avenues of avoidance are now in effect.

The obligations upon civil society, which is the reason for the USAID suspending its cooperation with the NAPC, are also now in effect.

As predicted by the blog, President Poroshenko when signing the law stated he was doing so in the interests of the military.  He went on to state that he supported the establishment of a working group with the participation of representatives of public organisations, the Presidential Administration and MPs to agree on changes to the amendments he had just signed into law.

Somewhat thin soup when considering the presidential ability to have had the Verkhovna Rada place the amendment higher up its agenda in a far more timely manner, and somewhat farcical to be planning amendments to amendments on the day it becomes law.

Nevertheless the law is the law, and civil society is now expected to abide by what will almost definitely change later – but what is done in the meantime by way of newly introduced statutory submissions obviously cannot be undone.  Currently new obligatory submissions while the amendments to the amendment are deliberately subjected to a long discussion period cannot then be un-submitted.

Who would be surprised to see the new contentious requirements repealed/significantly amended only after they have been fully met?

Nevertheless, it is what is in effect the USAID imposition of sanctions upon NACP that catches the eye – for very shortly a new draft Labour Code (the current Code having been consistently lamented at the blog for almost the entirety of the near decade it has been running) is currently unquestionably falling far short of the Ukrainian obligations made within the ratified EU Association Agreement.

Will a reader witness the EU following the USAID lead and effectively sanctioning an appropriate ministry or Ukrainian government programme should it fail to swiftly include within the new draft Labour Code what it has obligated itself to do when ratifying the Association Agreement?

If the effective sanctioning of Ukrainian aid/reform programmes is to become a (needed) tool employed by donor governments, just how many times President Poroshenko can afford to be perceived as being sanctioned by “friendly” governments when, albeit unofficially, campaigning for the next presidential election has already unambiguously begun remains to be seen.  Giving away political points so unnecessarily is simply folly.

This was an entirely avoidable mess (as any mess surrounding the draft Labour Code can also be avoided) yet a reader cannot be blamed should suspicions that this mess was deliberately and/or foolishly created be reached.

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