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August 01, 2009

Law Students and Government Officials Discuss Anti-Corruption Efforts

August 2009

In its recent world corruption perception ranking, Transparency International placed Ukraine at 134, which highlights the dire need for raising public awareness about corruption and its negative impacts. To enhance anti-corruption initiatives, the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) held a July 6 roundtable at the Parliamentary Library of Ukraine. Participants discussed the Guidelines on the U.N. Convention against Corruption and the state of anti-corruption efforts.

Young leaders and university students representing some of the most prominent law schools in the country attended the roundtable. Oleksandr Ryabeka, chair of a sub-committee of the parliament’s Committee on Fighting Organized Crime and Corruption, Olena Smirnova, head of the Ministry of Justice’s Department on Anti-Corruption Policy, and Maksym Frolov, vice president of Eurasia Association of Legal Schools, spoke at the event.

Ryabeka said that the current legal education in Ukraine has not been able to address all existing challenges. He encouraged the audience to participate in anti-corruption training events to better prepare themselves for their unique environment. He said, “Many things we have to put up with here do not exist in other countries.” He also discussed successful anti-corruption experiences from other countries, which should be studied carefully for possible implementation in Ukraine.

Smirnova, who has been working on anti-corruption legislation since 2003, said there is an acute need for raising public awareness about corruption, citing a 2003 study which found 70% of Ukrainians were tolerant of corruption. In its 2009 study, the Democratic Initiatives Fund (DIF) found that 54% of Ukrainians believe it is necessary to offer bribes to solve the majority of issues. Though this has decreased significantly from the DIF’s 2003 finding—with 72% of respondents saying bribes were necessary—the number is still too high to celebrate. Smirnova also spoke about draft anti-corruption laws developed at the Ministry of Justice and the challenges to their adoption.

The discussion provided an opportunity for a corruption-focused dialog between future lawyers and statesmen and current government officials. ABA ROLI and the Legislative Policy Development Project for Ukraine plan to conduct an anti-corruption training for parliamentary interns in the near future.

ABA ROLI gave 150 copies of the Guidelines on the U.N. Convention against Corruption to the Parliamentary Library for use by members of parliament and other officials. ABA ROLI published the guidelines as part of its anti-corruption coordination initiative, which includes working with the Parliament of Ukraine and the Ministry of Justice to publish resources on corruption-related Ukrainian legislation and international treaties.

To learn more about our work in Ukraine, contact the ABA Rule of Law Initiative at <[email protected]>.