Since Ukraine’s accession to the Council of Europe on 9 November 1995, one of the main objectives of co-operation activities has been to support the country in honouring its statutory obligations, and the commitments taken upon accession to the Council of Europe. However, beyond these statutory obligations, Ukraine freely undertook to fulfil a number of specific commitments in order to improve democracy, human rights and the rule of law in the country; these various obligations and commitments are laid out in PACE Opinion No. 190 (1995).
Pursuant to the Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of Ukraine and the Council of Europe concerning the establishment in Ukraine of the Office of the Council of Europe and its legal status of 6 November 2006, the Parties resolved to facilitate further democratic development in Ukraine, in particular through full and efficient implementation of the Action Plan.
Status of co-operation
The Council of Europe Action Plan for Ukraine 2015-2017 was approved by the Committee of Ministers on 21 January 2015 and was launched by the Council of Europe Secretary General on 17 March 2015 in Kyiv. The Action Plan reflects the priorities of the country, as well as issues identified in the most recent findings of Council of Europe’s monitoring bodies, resolutions and recommendations with respect to Ukraine. In addition, the Action Plan draws from both the Action Plan for Ukraine 2011-2014 and the Co-operation with Ukraine – Immediate Measures Package documents implemented in 2014. The Immediate Measures Package aimed to provide an immediate response to the Ukrainian crisis and to assist the country with addressing legislative and institutional challenges in areas of human rights, the rule of law and democratic governance which were not directly covered by the previous Council of Europe Action Plan.
The overall objective of the Action Plan is to support Ukraine to fulfil its statutory and specific obligations as a Council of Europe member state and to contribute to addressing fundamental issues relating to human rights, the rule of law and democracy in Ukraine. The specific objectives of the Action Plan are to provide support in the following areas:
• Constitutional reform and functioning of democratic institutions;
• Reform of the judiciary;
• Democratic governance, notably decentralisation and amalgamation reforms;
• Economic crime;
• Human rights, notably in the areas of prevention of torture, ill-treatment and the fight against impunity; police and penitentiary reform; support to the Ombudsman; freedom of the media; protection of minorities; anti-discrimination; protection of social rights and children’s rights.
The total budget amounts to €45 million.
The Action Plan is implemented by the Council of Europe’s Directorate General of Human Rights and Rule of Law, the Directorate General of Democracy, as well as by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe. The Office of the Council of Europe in Kyiv co-ordinates the implementation of over 30 projects, including joint projects with the European Union.
Projects in the Action Plan are funded from multiple sources and co-ordinated with the European Union delegation. Funding is provided from the Council of Europe’s ordinary budget as well as voluntary contributions from donor countries and international organisations, including the European Union/Council of Europe Eastern Partnership Programmatic Co-operation Framework for 2015-2017.
To facilitate contacts with Ukrainian authorities and other interlocutors the Secretary General has appointed a Special Advisor for Ukraine in July 2014 and a Special Advisor to the Government of Ukraine on Decentralisation in April 2016. The implementation of the Action Plan is co-ordinated with both Special Advisors.