Ukraine to develop a National Action Plan for Human Rights

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Kyiv – Development of a National Action Plan (NAP) for Human Rights in Ukraine was discussed during the meeting held under the auspices of the United Nations and co-organized by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe.

The creation of NAP is a crucial step in operationalizing the National Human Rights Strategy (NHRS), initiated by the President’s Decree in October 2014. The Office of the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights plans to assume the roles of a proactive contributor in creating both the Strategy and the subsequent Action Plan, co-monitoring its implementation with civil society and human rights activists. The successful collaboration of the Office of Ombudsperson and human rights defenders in authoring and implementing the NHRS enjoyed a consistent encouragement and support from UNDP in Ukraine.

All interested parties, including representatives of the Ukrainian authorities, civil society,international organisations,andthe Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights, as well as speakers from Moldova, Georgia, and the European Network of National Human Rights Institutions, convened to discuss relevant international experience and collectively reflect on the procedural and substantive elements of NAPs.

The meeting was opened by Mr. Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights. After welcoming the participants, Mr. Muižnieks notedthat the international community should support Ukraine in its efforts to reform the human rights sphere, and actions of Ukrainian authorities must meet strict requirements and be controlled by civil society.

Mr. Neal Walker, UN Resident Coordinator, in his opening remarks applauded the development of a National Human Rights Strategy to promote human rights in Ukraine. He stressedthatthis much needed first step comes at a dramatic moment for the country, which is attempting to reform itself while facing daunting challenges to its security, integrity,and development.

Ms. Natalia Sevostianova, Government Agent before the European Court of Human Rights and Chair of the Working Group on the NHRS development, presented principles, criteria, and structure of the National Human Rights Strategy. Ms. Sevostyanova said that recent events in Ukraine led to the development of a strong civil society that seeks changes and implements them in cooperation with public authorities. This, in turn, has created the need for devising a National Strategy of Ukraine to include the state’s direction and main priorities in the field of human rights, covering the means of achieving the objectives of the Strategy.

In order to exchange knowledge and expertise in developing NAPs, a discussion with a core focus on experiences of various countries across the globe followed. Ms. Tamar Chugoshvili, Ex-Adviser to the Prime Minister of Georgia, Ms. Corina Călugăru, representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration of the Republic of Moldova, and Ms. Elisabeth Abiri, UNDP Expert, provided valuable insights into the best practices in their countries.

Ms. Valeria Lutkovska, Parliamentary Commissioner for Human Rights, highlighted the important role of National Human Rights Institutions on developing a National Human Rights Strategy and Action Plan in Ukraine. Along these lines, she emphasized the importance of NGO participation in the development of NAPs to advance the human rights agenda in Ukraine.

As per the Presidential Decree, the draft National Human Rights Strategy is to be ready by the 1 January 2015.