Ukrainian Parliament fosters new oversight skills during the COVID-19 pandemic

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Ukrainian Parliament fosters new oversight skills during the COVID-19 pandemic

July 13th, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic required the rapid formulation of emergency laws. In Ukraine, like elsewhere, government had to rush through laws. This is concerning, because the analysis of laws is rarely valued highly even when the process is slower. Monitoring the impact of laws helps ensure that they are achieving their desired outcomes. It also helps make sure unintended consequences are considered.

Recognizing this, Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD) worked with the Committee on Economic Development in the Ukrainian Parliament to pilot post-legislative scrutiny (PLS). PLS involves monitoring and evaluating laws to check whether they are achieving their desired outcomes and to monitor their consequences. WFD, funded by the British Embassy in Ukraine, supported the committee to assess the effectiveness and impact of COVID-19 emergency laws.

WFD provided an initial training workshop, and further assisted the committee in all stages of PLS. The PLS inquiry sought input from government ministries, civil society, academics, open-data sources and members of the public. The findings were assessed, discussed with a variety of stakeholders, and presented to the government.

Overall, the committee’s inquiry gave a positive assessment of the COVID-19 measures. Yet, some recommendations for improvement were identified. The PLS revealed that although all citizens had equal access to the response measures, no extra support was offered to vulnerable groups: in other words, the measures were equal but not equitable. Additionally, the committee found that geographical coverage of the support was uneven, and the financial assistance given was insufficient.

The outcomes of the inquiry extend beyond simply improving one law, within one region. Usefully, the inquiry reveals the ideal environment in which effective PLS can occur, for effective PLS, engagement of external stakeholders is necessary. External actors must feel comfortable and trusting of parliament and it must be clear that any criticism will be met with open arms. Further, administrative resources must be available, and staff should have the knowledge and confidence to conduct PLS independently.

Committee members reported that WFD’s pilot PLS inquiry has had a positive, and lasting impact on them. The committee chair stated, “this is only our first experience of monitoring the effectiveness of the implementation of legislation, and we’d like to continue this work.” Promisingly, it seems likely PLS will continue within Ukraine. Through PLS the intended and unintended consequences of a law are quickly identified, these are then accounted for. Hence, the continuation of these inquiries within Ukrainian democracy is likely to improve the effectiveness of future laws. Overall, this pilot study offers great potential for Ukrainian democracy, and further implementations of PLS across a multitude of contexts.

Read the full case study (PDF)

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