NAKO analyst Taras Yemchura for Novoye Vremya. Business
On July 5, 2018, Petro Poroshenko signed the Law of Ukraine on National Security.
Many experts criticize this law because of a number of shortcomings, the discrepancy of some of its articles with the provisions of the Constitution of Ukraine and the lack of real progress in the security and defence sector. Especially in the part which refers to the SBU reform.
Obviously, the law could have been better if the proposals made by the civil society, including the NAKO’s ones had been taken into account. However, even in its present form, the document will have a significant impact on Ukraine’s security and defence sector.
Below I will explain which major areas will be reformed after the Law on National Security has been signed and which, according to NAKO experts, need special attention from the deputies, civil society and international partners.
The Reform of Special Services and Public Control over Them
The final provisions of the new law establish the foundation for the development of a number of other bills, which are sometimes even more important than the document itself.
Within six months, a separate parliamentary committee should be set up to exercise democratic control over the activities of the Special Services. Also, within a period of six months, a new version of the Law of Ukraine “On the Security Service of Ukraine” should be developed.
The key problem is that the SBU keeps unnatural for it functions, such as the investigation of economic crimes and the fight against corruption. This contradicts the experience of NATO countries and duplicates other bodies such as SAPO or NABU.
At the same time, one of the key tasks of the SBU is the protection of state secrets. This mechanism today works inefficiently. Instead of protecting national interests, this body is more likely to create problems (including unjustified restrictions on the right to access public information as well as excessive secrecy in defence procurement). The legislative framework that regulates this issue needs to be immediately enhanced.
For example, the Law on National Security is not the only document that concerns the review of the system of protection of state secrets. The task of increasing transparency of defense procurement was set by both the President of Ukraine in the Strategic Defence Bulletin and the Cabinet of Ministers in the Strategy for the Reform of the Public Procurement System.
Defence Procurement Reform
The Independent Anti-Corruption Committee on Defence (NACO) studied the corruption risks in defence procurement. In order to increase transparency in this area while preserving national security, a number of changes to certain legal acts are required. First of all, it refers to the Law of Ukraine “On State Secrets” and the Law of Ukraine “On State Defence Order”.
Despite numerous public statements and even clear tasks with timelines for implementation in strategic documents, today Ukraine’s defence procurement system is far from the one that operates in NATO countries.
Reform of the State Management of the Defence Industrial Complex.
Procurement reform and protection of state secrets will certainly have an impact on public administration in the defenсe-industrial complex. It is worth paying attention to the Strategy for the Development of the Defenсe Industrial Complex until 2028, which was approved almost simultaneously with the Law on National Security. Together they foresee the creation of a central executive body that will formulate and implement state policy in the defenсe industry. No document discloses the mechanisms for its creation.
Which status will this body have? What will be the procedure for the selection and appointment of the management of this body? Who will it be accountable to? These issues can not be left without answer, as it is planned that this body will be responsible for the allocation of 0.5% of GDP (in accordance with the Concept of Development of the Security and Defence Sector) and for the future of the whole industry, which has hundreds of businesses and tens of thousands of workers.
Today, the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade is the body that prepares and generalises proposals how to form and implement the state policy in the field of defence industry. Obviously it is far from the full formation and implementation of the state policy.
Summing up, it should be noted that the agenda today is the task of developing a number of draft laws, which should be the focus for the general public and international partners, namely:
Signing the Law on National Security is only the first step, followed by complex and routine work that needs to be launched. This process requires coherence between the authorities, the public and international partners. The complicated process of reforming the security and defence sector during the war is further complicated by the pre-election process and populism. The public and international partners are ready to assist Ukrainian deputies and the Government in their work on the above-mentioned projects. But is the government ready for that?