Posts Tagged ‘consultancy’

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Forgotten by the headline news – human rights meetings take place in Ukraine

February 8, 2013

Not mentioned in recent headlines in Ukraine, but probably far more important the President Yanukovych’s visit to Lithuania, the visit and departure of the Cox/Kwasniewski EU mission visit, and just as important as the Stephan Fule “drop by” visit of 7th January, was a meeting between Valerie Lutkovska, the Commissioner for Human Rights in Ukraine (or Ombudsman if you prefer) and Messrs Christos Dzhiakumopulosom and Marcus Huntsman of the Council of Europe.

This meeting was to coordinate, discuss and action the 2013 – 2017 protection of human rights strategic plan and evaluate results thus far.

It therefore caught my eye, that the Council of Europe was very interested in drawing the attention of Ms Lutkovska to the issue of personal data protection.

With all the human rights issues present in Ukraine, whether effective remedy is proscribed by law and simply ignored, or a reality as yet not addressed by the law, why was data protection specifically mentioned as an area that the CoE want the Ukrainian Ombudsman to pay particular attention to over and above the work of NGOs, the protection of minorities, the on-going Somali asylum issues, political prisoners (or not), the disabled, a malleable justice system etc ?

Is there any connection to the newly launched EU initiative to provide an “open, safe, secure cyberspace” protecting “fundamental rights, democracy and the rule of law” – launched the day after the CoE/Ukrainian Ombudsman’s meeting?  Ukraine, after all, is recognised as being “free” when it comes to political interference on the Internet by Freedom House.  Is it too free –  Is Article 10 consistently butchering Article 8 of the European Human Rights Act in the CoE’s opinion?  Are the on-line media, bloggers and criminals running amok in Ukraine via the Internet?

Is the concern more over the security of data – an issue that has delayed the biometric passports and thus one of the reasons Ukraine remains mired in Stage 1 of the Visa-free process with the EU, instead of sailing on into Stage 2?

Is the concern over the misuses of securely held data guarded by corruptible minions in the state administration?

Could it be that Ukrainian cyber defences are particularly poor in comparison with the very skilled hackers within this country (and without)?

Is it that current and  proposed Ukrainian data protection laws in some way discriminate against the population or parts of it?

Is it simply that any form of media being deemed “free” by Freedom House in Ukraine flags up the the CoE that the Ukrainian authorities are paying too little attention to the Internet and what goes on there generated in Ukraine?

Is it any or all of the above that has caused this issue to have a specific mention at this meeting given all the other human rights issues in Ukraine?

Interesting!

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Sexually Transmitted Infections – Sex Workers Ukraine

December 27, 2012

Before I begin, I should make a declaration of (previous) interest.

No – I am not and never have been a sex worker in Ukraine!

I did, however, spend 8 years dealing with the issue of prostitution and all the surrounding issues in the 1990’s in the UK.  Over such a period of time, and witnessing closely, both the ups and downs of those I came to know very well during that time, attitudes if not changed, certainly become somewhat more understanding – or even mellow – depending upon individual circumstance.

The UN has just released its December 2012 “Prevention and treatment of HIV and other Sexually Transmitted Infections for Sex Workers in Low/Middle Income Countries Policy Brief” – a catchy title I’m sure you’ll agree.

It does not mention Ukraine specifically, but due to the huge variation in living standards here, it can be inferred that this report will apply to a large section (but not all) of the sex workers in Ukraine (and those trafficked out of, or via, Ukraine).

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I have to state that I agree with all that is said in the UN policy brief, even the proposal to de-criminalise such work (which is not the same thing as legalising it).

However, in a country such as Ukraine, where under the Tymoshenko government pornography was banned – without defining what was to be classed as pornography and what was not (where would nude sculptures, classical paintings of nudes etc stand?), the pending homophobic laws under the current government et al,  then can we expect any such implementation of UN policy/domestic liberalisation here?

No.

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Enrst & Young Expatriates Survey – Ukraine

December 15, 2012

Enrst & Young are carrying out a little survey amongst expatriates in Ukraine.

I have written about polls and surveys before, 18th July to be exact, and what weight, if any, can be given to them:

“………..My point, such as it is, is to look at any particular poll not only in comparison with others, but also in and of itself, as the whole rather than an abstracted and highlighted part.

This brings me to another point. If a certain poll widely touted holds very little comparison to a number of others, then one has to consider it with a degree of caution. The exception is hardly ever the rule and therefore a poll that seems to be the exception may not be a true representation of opinion through either a faulty academic model or a deliberate manipulation of the model upon which it is based or simply a fluke set of results.

Such manipulation can be deliberately caused by polling in cities known to favour party A or B and despite the poll then stating it was conducted in numerous cities around the nation, it was in fact deliberately skewed. Another way is to include a disproportionate number of men or women, people of certain age ranges, a high number of employed verses unemployed etc.

Another reason a poll may seem beyond the normative results of all the others is the manner in which it was conducted. People may react differently to a telephone poll than to a poll in the street or via the Internet. It may also be down to the questions themselves. A slightly different wording or different emphasis on certain words when the question is asked can bring quite different results. The nuance of language can and does effect the objectivity of a poll and the statistics they produce. Something all too often overlooked.

Thus we can unwittingly be trying to compare apples with oranges, a fact normally hidden by party spokespeople or the media.

There is also the issue of the actual size and make-up of the poll. A poll of 1000 normally is interpreted to be plus or minus 3 points. What that actually means when comparing polls is that there could, at the extremes, be an academically sound 6 point gap between two entirely legitimate polls. Something not to be forgotten.

The composition of these polls also matters when claims are made relating to “every region”. As an example, polling company X carries out a poll across Ukraine of 1000 people. Of those 1000 people across the regions, only 30 were from Crimea. That immediately makes any results attributed to Crimea as a region a nonsense as the number of Crimeans polled is so small, the margin for error is so immense it holds no academic or statistical value whatsoever as an indicator to Crimean regional voting. It would become even more worthless if they all come from the same town or the same age group or the same age range or the same ethnic group.

In short, for a poll to have any legitimate standing, at a minimum there should be 1000 people involved and the model upon which the results are based must be correctly weighted. In its most fundamental form, it should have the right number of respondents relating to age, ethnicity, region, gender etc etc in proportion to the country to have a country wide relevance. The numbers involved though cannot be used as a realistic guide to regional results as I have explained above. Regional results would require a survey of 1000 people in that region, also weighted to take account of social composition.

None of this will be brought to the attention of the public by the spokespeople of party A or B and neither will it be explained or brought to the attention of the public by the media who will be too busy backing their horse and trying to hobble the other, to let a small matter of transparency or accuracy get in the way – even if they have to resort to quoting polls that simply have no real worth………”

So why am I bringing to the attention of readers this Ernst & Young survey?

Well the answer is to hopefully encourage those who do not live in Kyiv to complete it, otherwise the result will be a reflection on Kyiv – and not Ukraine!

Yes I have completed it and I am quite certain my responses will be very different from those living in Kyiv.

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Unexpected invitations – New Silk Road/Неожиданное приглашение – Новый Шелковый путь

August 14, 2012

Life is full of little surprises, some good and some bad, but little surprises nonetheless.

I have had a little surprise.  One which for me with so much free time on my hands I will consider a good surprise.  It is especially good from my point of view, as it marries where I live now to where I came from in a positive way and through a vehicle that is a Not for Profit entity.  The NFP entity sits nicely with my conscience as being part of something worthwhile for both parts of the world I call home, whilst not costing either any money.

I have been approached by the Secretariat of Lord Waverley to play a small part in the New Silk Road forum.  The full scope of this forum is still being fleshed out, however it is not aimed at the multinationals who employ national embassies to open doors and muscle their way into markets – but SMEs along the New Silk Road.

Naturally I have agreed to play whatever part is requested of me having friends and acquaintances in quite a few of the nations that this project is designed to engage with.  If it fills a few hours or even days of the week in a productive and effective way for those it is designed to help, then I will be quite happy to donate this time.   Better to be busy than bored and free time I have in abundance.

In fact so much free time do I have, I am going to write this post in Russian as well, simply to draw attention to the project on the Russian search engines.  Back tomorrow.

Жизнь полна сюрпризов, хороших и плохих, но мало сюрпризов, тем не менее.

У меня был небольшой сюрприз. Один из них для меня так много свободного времени у меня я буду считать это хорошим сюрпризом. Это особенно хорошо с моей точки зрения,  женитьба, где я живу теперь, откуда я приехал в позитивной стороны и через организацию, которая не приносит  прибыли. Предприятие НК хорошо находится со своей совестью как часть чего-то стоит для обеих частей мира я могу позвонить домой, в то время это не будет стоить  денег.

Я обратилась в Секретариат Лорд Уэверли сыграть небольшую роль в новый форум шелкового пути. Полном объеме в этом форуме все еще конкретизировали, однако она не направлена ​​на транснациональные корпорации, которые используют национальные посольства, чтобы открыть двери  протолкнуть путь на рынки, –  малого и среднего бизнеса по новым Шелковым путям.

Естественно, я согласился играть в любой части о чем просили меня  друзья и знакомые и  многие люди, что этот проект предназначен для поражения . Если он заполняет несколько часов или даже дней в неделю это продуктивный и эффективный способ для тех, кому он предназначен, чтобы помочь  я буду очень рад пожертвовать на этот раз. Лучше быть занятым чем скучать и конечно свободного времени у меня в избытке.

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TEDx Event – Odessa

June 22, 2012

No, I’m not joking!

TEDx, for those thinkers amongst you who are prepared to entertain viewing the world through a different lens and contemplating how it could be, have brought some truly memorable presentations to us all:

There are TEDx presentations by people I know such as Charles Crawford, part of whose empire I have written about previously:

Well, TEDx is coming to Odessa on 24th June, again with speakers who I know, talking on the theme of how to combine tradition and technology for development.  Blimey!

The event will be held in the White Acacia conference room at 59 Fransuski Boulevard.

For those visiting Odessa who may wonder what the point would be in attending, as it will all be in a foreign language, I can assure you that at least part of it will be in English, as there is certainly one speaker, who despite many years working in Russia and Ukraine, will present in English as he hasn’t really bothered to learn the local lingo!

Anyway, full details and rouges gallery of speakers can be found here.

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Reforming the administration – A NGO invitation

April 2, 2012

Well, like him or not, and as a character I am not overly fond, but as an administrator he is very good, Prime Minister Azarov is certainly talking the right talk.  Obviously there is an election coming up and the talk is of course partially aimed at influencing voters and those in-State actors who can influence voters as well.  We should expect nothing less.  All sitting governments up for reelection do the same thing.

Anyway, Mr Azarov has issued an appeal to NGOs in Ukraine to assist the government in ridding itself of unnecessary administrative organs.

As he rightly states, “This work is not because we want less work, but because many administrative services are completely unnecessary.”  Quite true but only half the issue.  Not only is much of it unnecessary, but a lot of it that can be justified is overly complex and never situated in the same place, requiring different documents in a certain order, stamped and signed in a tour–de–bureoucratic organs before returning to your first port of administrative call, for them to conclude the most simple of official documentation matters.

Much of it is simply repetitive when production of document “A” would prove your have already have/done 99% of what is required for the production of document “B”.  Why repeat the entire process again?

Far too many administrative State organs have a requirement to be in the mix for simple document production  when there is no real justification for them to be part of the process at all.

I am quite sure an academic/NGO study of the Ukrainian administrative model could shrink it by a further 20% over and above any shrinkage already carried out by the government.

Cynically I am also quite sure the government are quite aware of this but want to involve NGOs and civil society in the run up to an election in an effort to get them “on-side” as much as possible.  After all, there are numerous neighbouring States that have made the administrative transition from USSR bureaucracy to a more modern administrative system who would be only too pleased to share their experiences with Ukraine.

If it were not an election year, you would suspect that tax-payer funded jollies to these nations to investigate their new administrative systems would have been the preferred governmental methodology.

However, it is an election year, the invitation has been made and any NGO worth the title will actively engage with the government given such an open invitation.  A foot in the door and collaboration over this makes it easier to gain access through the same door when pushing other issues the government is not so willing to action.

Let us hope it is an opportunity not only seized by the civil society active in Ukraine, but also the diplomatic missions of those nations with embassies and consulates here as well.  Who better to give advice over bureaucracy in other nations and their systems than the bureaucrats from other nations?

Mr Hague, FCO, UK Ambassador to Ukraine and boiler room staff in Kyiv, you all hail from possibly the oldest established civil service in Europe if not on the planet.  Choose a subject, for example tax and tax administration, and promote our experience and systems to the government of Ukraine.  As much as I dislike paying tax as the next person, our UK system is far easier to cope with than that of Ukraine as a tax payer.  I have experience of both.

This must be a golden opportunity to get very friendly with the current Ukrainian government if the UK government chooses to take it.

Go on FCO – I dare you to make a positive difference to every Ukrainian by showing the current Ukrainian Cabinet of Ministers a better, more streamlined and efficient way in an administrative area of your choice.

Gauntlet publicly thrown down Mr Hague and chums!

(As an aside, Valeriy Khoroshkovskyi, First Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine is in the interrogation seat at Chatham House tonight (1730 – 1830 BST) for a grilling on Ukrainian foreign policy by my esteemed and astute fellow Chatham House members.  If he says anything unexpected I’ll let you know over the course of the next few days.)

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There’s gold in them there hills! Well Lugansk actually

January 26, 2012

There’s gold in them there hills!

Well actually there isn’t.  Or maybe there is, but this is not the Klondike.  I am actually writing about a gold mine.  Not a metaphorical gold mine but an actual gold mine.

I am talking about the Bobrikova deposit in Lugansk which has attracted the attention of the Australians.  Good miners the Australians you know!

I know what you are thinking.  Well of course if there is gold in Ukraine, given the fact that currently everybody loves gold (despite the obvious bubble bursting when the markets get brave again and leave that safe haven) then Ukraine will obviously mine it.  Even if it has to be in a joint venture with the Australians.

Although its news, it is hardly news that interests me very much!

Well, that depends if you are what is known as a “sophisticated investor”, or as they are known in the financial investment world, “Sophs”.  If you are, the mere fact I am mentioning your little circle and the fact the above link states that the companies mining for this gold are looking to raise $50 million in investment has now got your attention, fleeting or more sustained.

I can tell you “Sophs” that there is an IPO in the next few months on an exchange that is not Ukrainian but is an EU exchange to raise this investment.

As you “Sophs” are generally quite intelligent, you will be able to read between the lines of what I am about to write and compare the opportunities to those that make US Congressmen very rich when they obtain shares prior to an IPO and then sell them once the IPO has been successful, or indeed keep them in their portfolio as is their want.

I may or may not be in a position to point you in the right direction to negotiate share purchases prior to the IPO.  I may or may not be in possession of the geology survey.  I may or may not know the who and how for entry in this deal.

Being “Sophs” you will be aware of the risks of buying non quoted stock prior to the IPO, but you will also be aware of the returns after a successful IPO.  Needless to say I am about as qualified to give financial or investment advice as Gordon Brown was to run the UK budget for a decade, however, you are “Sophs” and need only to know the opportunity exists.

If you are an interested “Soph”, you may want to leave a comment below that will never reach the public domain or be published here, but will provide some contact details for others to contact you in due course and confidentially.

OK – on to other matters tomorrow that will certainly no be of interest to “Sophs” but maybe to the simply sophisticated.  Then again maybe not!

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