The Coalition’s background, history and the analysis of the situation

 

As of 27 September 2012

 

In 2004 an international non-commercial organization “European Roma Rights Centre” provided a grant to an international non-governmental think-tank “International Centre for Policy Studies” (ICPS) for the development of the draft anti-discrimination law. The draft law, designed by the ICPS (the team was led by the ICPS legal analyst Olexandr Tatarevsky) was submitted for consideration of Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine (the Ukrainian Parliament) by the Communist Party of Ukraine MP Ivan Myhovych as a draft Law of Ukraine # 8590 “On protection from discrimination on the grounds of race, nationality or ethnicity” as of 15 December 2005. This draft law did not pass the first reading, therefore after the work of Verkhovna Rada of the IV convocation was over (May 2006) it was considered to be taken off consideration according to the Ukrainian Parliament Regulations.

 

In the years 2006-2007 the All-Ukrainian charitable organization “Coalition of HIV-Service Organizations” implemented a project “Mechanism of combating discrimination against persons living with HIV/AIDS”, which was supported by the project “Ukrainian Civic Action Network” (UCAN) of the Institute for Sustainable Communities (ISC), as well as by the project “Community-Based Advocacy and Networking to Scale-Up HIV Prevention in an Era of Expanded Treatment” of the International Council of AIDS Service Organizations (ICASO), which was implemented with the support of the AIDS Action Europe and Central and Eastern European Harm Reduction Network (CEEHRN). The AUCO “Coalition of HIV-Service Organizations” project resulted in development of the draft Law of Ukraine “On protection from discrimination” and generation of the analytical and informational materials on human rights and combating discrimination issues. All of these were made public in the publication “Problems of discrimination: legal aspects, international experience, Ukrainian realities” (Kyiv, 2007) («Проблемы дискриминации: правовые аспекты, международный опыт, украинские реалии» (К., 2007) – in Russian). The draft law, designed under the aegis of the “Coalition of HIV-Service Organizations”, was not submitted for consideration of the Ukrainian Parliament, as it was planned for the Parliament’s V convocation – while in 2007 Verkhovna Rada of this convocation was dissolved ahead of schedule by President Yuschenko.

 

In 2010 Svyatoslav Sheremet, “Interregional Centre for LGBT-Studies Donbas-SocProject” Board of Trustees’ member, initiated cooperation of a number of NGOs with the International Renaissance Foundation (IRF) in order to develop and further advocate for a comprehensive anti-discrimination law in Ukraine. These initiatives were implemented in a project “Anti-discrimination action – on a way to change: developments, popularization, promotion”, which was implemented by the Centre “Donbas-SocProject” with the IRF support between 10 January and 25 November 2011. The project was coordinated by Hanna Dovhopol, who at the end of its implementation moved to the position of the project manager on activism and campaigns at the Amnesty International in Ukraine. It was during the project implementation when the idea to unite the partner NGOs and charity organizations in the framework of the common civic and political civil society institutions’ initiative came about. This initiative was named “Coalition for Combating Discrimination in Ukraine” (CCD). The Coalition became institutionalized on 5 April 2011 by member organizations of the Coalition adopting the Memorandum, which was left open for other organizations’ support.

 

The issues related to the anti-discrimination legislation went higher on the agenda due to signing of a document called “EU-Ukraine Visa Dialogue – Action Plan on Visa Liberalisation”. Such a favourable conjuncture made it possible to raise an issue of putting comprehensive anti-discrimination law on the agenda of the Ukrainian government.

 

The draft Law of Ukraine “On protection from discrimination” was developed (with Serhiy Ponomaryov leading the team) in the framework of the above mentioned project “Anti-discrimination action – on a way to change: developments, popularization, promotion”. The draft law was discussed involving interested public groups – such as human rights activists taking part in “expertclub” Google-group, as well as representatives of some executive authorities – the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine among them.

 

On 2 July 2011 Serhiy Ponomaryov, an acting coordinator of the All-Ukrainian youth civic organization “Youth human rights centre”, was elected as the CCD coordinator. CCD coordinator’s elections provided the Coalition with the “face” in its further work.

 

On 18 August 2011 the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine published on its official website the draft Presidential Decree “On the Strategy of Combating Discrimination in Ukraine”. Neither CCD as the Coalition, nor any of its organization members provided their proposals to this document due to the summer holidays season. At the end of the day, this Head of the State’s draft act was never signed, and the executive authorities concentrated on the development of the draft comprehensive anti-discrimination law.

 

Upon completion of the “Anti-discrimination action – on a way to change: developments, popularization, promotion” project, the International Renaissance Foundation announced that it is ready to support further development of the CCD and cooperation between its member organizations. Discussions between the active CCD members led to the decision to specialize the efforts by sectors of work, and at the end of 2011, accordingly, four partner projects were submitted to the IRF, which were supported: “Anti-discrimination action: time of change” by “Interregional Centre for LGBT-Studies Donbas-SocProject” NGO (Mariupol-Donetsk), “Society and problems of protection from discrimination: an expert view” by “The Ukrainian Centre for Independent Political Research” NGO (Kyiv), “Establishing foundation for the reformation of the criminal mechanisms to counteract discrimination in Ukraine” by the “Social Action Centre” NGO (Kyiv) and “Anti-discrimination action: informational and educational campaign” by the Vinnytsia NGO “Informational and Educational Centre 'VIS'” (Vinnytsia). At the same time, the idea of the strategic planning for the CCD activities was born, and enclosed into the “Donbas-SocProject” project as one of the activities.

 

During 2012 another organization – Kharkiv regional foundation “Civic Alternative” (with Mariya Yasenovska as its chair), which joined the CCD – applied to the International Renaissance Foundation, and received its support, for implementation of one more, fifth partner project, which concerns education and training for strategic litigation - “Combating discrimination through strategic litigation”.

 

On 5 June 2012 Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine of the VI convocation adopted in the first reading, as a basis, the draft Law of Ukraine “On the principles of prevention and combating discrimination in Ukraine” (registration no. 10468), introduced by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine on 14 May 2012. Unfortunately, while this draft law was designed by the government (and specifically – by the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine), many fundamental aspects of the anti-discrimination legislation, proposed and insisted upon by the CCD, were not taken into account.

 

On 6 September 2012, in the first days of the VI convocation’s last session, Verkhovna Rada adopted the draft law in question in full as a Law, and on 13 September it has been sent to the President for signing. Under these circumstances CCD has rapidly prepared and made public its statement arguing that the Law in its current form should not be signed, as it contains too many shortcomings. In its official statement the Coalition suggested that the President of Ukraine sends this piece of legislation back to the parliament with corrections so that it can be worked out, emphasizing the Law’s importance for the prospects of signing the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the European Union.

 

At the same time, after the draft law was adopted as a basis, the Coalition initiated this document's assessment in the Western European analytical and legal institutions.

 

 

Thus in two calendar years (2011-2012) the Coalition went a long way from a small-scale civic initiative, consisting of two organizations - “Donbas-SocProject” and Gay-Forum of Ukraine – to the leading positions in an area of combating discrimination in Ukraine, and in its project activity went to the whole new level – from the single basic social project to five partner projects under the common “coalition” umbrella. And a wide range of the CCD members – both experts and organizations – are involved in the partner projects’ preparation and implementation.

 

The CCD work is currently organized in a way that allows the Coalition’s experts to provide methodological and consulting assistance to the CCD member organizations in their projects’ implementation - no matter what organizations these experts personally belong to. This means that the expert group, established in the CCD framework, has quite a significant “centripetal force”, being united around common activity, common goals and objectives.

 

The Coalition, in two years of its activity, established cooperation with other leading organizations and individuals in the Ukrainian human rights movement, such as All-Ukrainian Association of civic human rights organisations ”Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union” (represented by Arkadiy Buschenko), Kharkiv Human Rights Group (represented by Yevhen Zakharov), All-Ukrainian civic organization “Association of Ukrainian monitors on Human Rights conduct in Law Enforcement (Association UMDPL)” (represented by Oleh Martynenko), as well as the International Organization for Migration (IOM) Mission in Ukraine (represented by Yana Salakhova).

 

Terminological Glossary on the areas of human rights and combating discrimination” became one of the Coalition experts’ significant creative achievements. The Glossary’s first edition (in Ukrainian) was finalized on 18 July 2011, and soon went into print. Upon the first Glossary edition, including 321 lexical units, was made publicly available, the CCD experts continue everyday work on its improvement and expansion.

 

The Coalition members, from its very beginning, communicated primarily using two means. First, the Coalition’s email group was set up, using Google platform ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ; 37 email addresses were subscribed as of 27 September 2012). Second, working and expert meetings are organized on a regular basis (six expert meetings, one press-club, one working meeting with the representatives of the “Human Rights Information Centre” partner organization, one three-days strategic planning session and the Coalition’s formal statutory convention were conducted).

 

In order to represent the Coalition on the Web, the website AntiDi.org.ua has been set up – originally as the Internet-representation of the “Anti-discrimination action – on a way to change: developments, popularization, promotion” project (launched in 2011), and in 2012 redesigned into the website of the Coalition itself.

 

Human Rights Information Centre” (HRIC) project of the “For Professional Journalism” NGO, supported by the IRF, became the Coalition’s main communication partner in 2012. The Coalition representatives were, with the HRIC assistance, invited to take part in a series of public events; HRIC experts were involved into the Coalition announcements’ preparation and dissemination.

 

The recognizable “CCD” acronym as well as “AntiDi” abbreviation (used in the Coalition website’s domain name and email group title) became successful elements of the Coalition’s public relations’ strategy, the essential parts of it “brand name”.

 

In the summer of the year 2012 the Coalition members were in the midst of implementation of the “second phase” anti-discrimination initiatives. This is when the Coalition experts and partner organizations realized the need to work out further a common vision of its work, goals and activity framework. The interested parties came together for a three-days working meeting in the city of Poltava (13-15 July 2012) in order to launch the strategic planning process.

 

As of the autumn 2012 the Coalition continues its capacity-building.