Defense Procurement, Veterans’ Social Protection and SSU Reform: Politicians and Experts Discussed National Security Reform

11.09.2020

What are the main achievements and problems in defense reform in recent times? How to strengthen the social protection of war veterans? What is happening with the SSU reform? These and other issues were discussed by the participants of the online event “Regional Discussion of Reforms: National Security and Defense“, organized by the Reanimation Package of Reforms Coalition on September 11.

An essential moment in the reform of national security and defense in recent years has been the development of the defense industry. There is also only one step left to the corporatization of Ukroboronprom – a logical continuation of the reform of the public sector of the military sector. But the most problematic issue remains the reform of the Security Service of Ukraine. This was stated by Ihor Levchenko, head of the strategic modelling section of the Center for Army Research, Conversion and Disarmament, co-author of the sectoral brief “National Security and Defense” during the presentation of the document.

Another problem in the field of national security is the issue of social protection of veterans, adds Victoria Ivasyk, coordinator of the analytical and advocacy center of the NGO “Legal Hundred” and co-author of the analytical brief.

Legislation on the status of veterans and guarantees of their social protection was adopted in 1993: it is outdated, and none of these guarantees can be obtained in full.

“Moreover, these guarantees do not allow veterans to return to a full life. For example, the right to free travel does not help to find housing, work or receive psychological help,” Ivasyk cites.

The first step in reforming the social protection system for veterans, she called the adoption of the draft laws № 3407 “On the status of veterans and family members of deceased (deceased) Defenders of Ukraine and veterans” and № 3408 “On the status of those who helped protect the homeland and those affected by armed conflict”, which have already been recommended by the profile committee of the Parliament.

The Parliament should approve these draft laws at the current session, predicts Roman Kostenko, MP, Secretary of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on National Security, Defense and Intelligence.

He also pointed to the problem with the reform of the SSU.

“Now the SSU has complete secrecy of evidence from lawyers and the public, as well as its places of detention. Nobody wants to relinquish these powers,” the MP said.

He expressed hope that the SSU would gradually perform the functions of the secret service, although he called the draft law on service reform, which will be considered by Parliament, imperfect.

In Ukraine, the defense sector is too bureaucratic: several documents regulate security issues, says Valerii Ivashchenko, First Deputy Minister for Strategic Industries.

He cited the positive example of Denmark, where there is only one document in this area – a parliamentary defense agreement. It is adopted every 6 years and combines virtually all significant papers in the security field.

Ivashchenko also named two main problems in the field of veterans’ protection.

“First of all, this is a determination of the status of participants in hostilities, because it can be obtained by a person who has only once gone to a working meeting in the environmental protection zone. Secondly, it is a matter of rehabilitating veterans so that they can fully return to a peaceful life, – said the Deputy Minister.

Another important positive aspect in the reform of national security is the adoption by Parliament of the law “On Defense Procurement” in July this year. Olena Trehub, Secretary General of the Independent Defense Anti-Corruption Committee (NAKO), drew attention to this.

“This bill brings Ukraine closer to Euro-Atlantic standards, makes procurement more transparent and competitive, sets market prices for procurement and reduces corruption risks,” the expert lists the critical provisions of the law.

But she expressed concern about the implementation of the document.

“The creation of the Ministry of Strategic Industries raises the question of who will develop the bylaws,” explains Trehub.

Vyacheslav Demyanenko, Acting Director General of the Directorate of Defense Policy of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, reminded that the defense review was completed last year. And based on it, it’s necessary to approve the National Security Strategy, the Defense Security Strategy and the Strategic Defense Bulletin.

Key recommendations for 2020–2021 set out in the sectoral brief:

  • adopting the law on intelligence, further reformation of the intelligence agencies, in particular in order to ensure democratic civilian oversight;
  • developing and adopting a new version of the Law on SSU in accordance with the provisions of the 2018 Law on National Security and the recommendations of our Western partners;
  • adopting a Defence Procurement Law to implement best practices in defence procurement in Ukraine;
  • creating an effective model of country defence based on a professional core, voluntary territorial defence, and a change in the system of general conscription, while introducing the enrolment forms that might entice the Ukrainian citizens into military service;
  • start of the process of corporatization of the State Ukroboronprom Concern in accordance with the OECD Guidelines on Corporate Governance at State-Owned Enterprises with the adoption of necessary legislative changes;
  • adopting a new law on the protection of classified information that complies with Euro-Atlantic principles of transparency and openness of public information;
  • conducting the audit and proper registration of land and property of the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine, systematizing the electronic register and making necessary changes to the relevant legal acts;
  • conducting an audit of the existing housing queue, introducing an electronic queue, developing an alternative model of social security for service persons and their families and making the necessary changes to the relevant legal acts;
  • among the possible options for improving the civil control system in accordance with NATO principles could be: establishment of an independent state institute of military ombudsman; extension of powers of relevant committees of the Parliament ; establishment of an appropriate democratic civil control service under the responsibility of the Parliament (should have the authority to investigate various security and defence issues on behalf of the Parliament or relevant committees). Such an institution can also be an important tool in counteracting corruption in the field of national security and defence;
  • adoption of the Law on the Status of Veterans and Members of the Families of Fallen Veterans in order to modernize the system of state support for veterans and their families remains a priority in the field of social security. The problem of legal status and social guarantees for persons deprived of their freedom as a result of the armed aggression of the Russian Federation needs to be addressed.

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