Tove H. Malloy

My professional website

Ukraine: Four Pathways to Sustainable Ethno-Cultural Governance

Reform is a word that is used frequently with respect to the democratic transformation of Ukraine following the change of regime after the manifestations and demonstrations in the Maidan square around the change of the year 2013/14. Unfortunately, very few analysts consider ethno-cultural governance and national minority protection important aspects of the reform efforts. Establishing permanent and functioning inter-ethnic structures receives little attention, except in the small circle of human rights defenders. Although a breakout of inter-ethnic tensions is on everybody’s mind, establishing lasting legal and political institutions for stable and peaceful inter-ethnic relations remains absent from most of the international debate on the future of Ukraine. Indeed, it has been argued that reforms with high relevance for the country’s future, such as territorial and administrative reforms have been largely ‘ethnically neutral.’ This Issue Brief discusses four pathways towards sustainable ethno-cultural governance and stable inter-ethnic relations in Ukraine and proposes institutionalized and open dialogue as well as awareness campaigns as a cross-cutting tool to avert tension.

Securing sustainable ethno-cultural governance and stable inter-ethnic relations in Ukraine would need a two‐pronged strategy to address the inter-ethnic challenges. The first prong of the strategy involves advancing reforms across the three pathways of a thorough review of legislation, securing representation in territorial governance and building comprehensive governance. Reforms in these areas can help clarify the legal situation through mainstreaming minority protection in all relevant legislation that must support the substantive minority rights spelled out in a revised Law on National Minorities.

Similarly, mainstreaming national minority representation and participation in territorial governance as well as allowing for ethno-cultural issues to be addressed across the spectrum of regional and local public management would not only enrich Ukraine’s approach to regional development but also secure equal treatment and equitable access. Furthermore, institutionalizing equitable representation, participation and access by building permanent consultative and advisory structures both at the political and executive levels and with clear guidelines for decentralized administrations would not only create a functioning approach to ethno-cultural governance but also secure the peace and stability of the regions.

The second prong of the strategy involves promoting stable inter-ethnic relations through open, respectful and institutionalized dialogue. Dialogue is a cross-cutting instrument that can support the aim of implementing the three pathways and priorities for sustainable ethno-cultural governance; formal and structured dialogue will help stakeholders, beneficiaries and the government achieve better governance together.

Open and respectful dialogue is also the tool to bring on board the sceptics, the majorities. Awareness campaigns are essential to inform the general public about Ukraine’s international obligations and wish for enjoying respect on the account of protecting humanand minority rights. Lack of knowledge-exchange between groups and individuals is often a major deterrent to fostering understanding; sectarianism emerges from lack of open dialogue. Better inter-ethnic communication is needed to avert tensions and conflicts. This is perhaps the most important of the two prongs that must underpin Ukraine’s strategy for reforms in the area of ethno-cultural governance.

For more on this topic, check out my ECMI Issue Brief #38 online here.

THE FLENSBURG FILES

A German-American-Multicultural online column

Citizenship

An ECPR standing group

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