Civil society defending Ukraine’s revolution against Ukraine’s leaders


As Ukraine’s oligarchic status quo re-asserts its power, the country’s international partners need to step up their support for democracy, says Sergii Leshchenko, a Ukrainian journalist and a member of the Verkhovna Rada. The consolidation of the US and EU is now more important than ever to defend the institutional achievements of the Ukrainian revolution. The experience of the past three years has shown that the carrot and stick approach is the most effective, he writes for Open Democracy:

Ukraine’s European partners should warn Poroshenko about the potential of re-examining the visa-free regime if the attack on civil society and increase in corruption continues. Repressive methods could become the main strategy of a president who is losing popularity, but Ukrainian society, together with its European partners, has to prevent this scenario from happening…….

The Ukrainian authorities are still dependent on aid from the International Monetary Fund, and the US government can still provide invaluable support for democratic change if it links further assistance to passing the law on the creation of an anti-corruption court and changing the electoral law, which is key to clearing politics from conflict of interest issues.

These are the slogans that kicked off October’s protests, which brought together anti-corruption activists, parties such as Democratic Alliance and Saakashvili’s Movement of New Forces, as well as the nationalist Svoboda and conservative Samopomich parties, adds Leshchenko, a former Reagan-Fascell fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy.

It is widely recognized that civil society plays an important role in improving the economy, health, and security around the world. Yet, only four of the 70 countries included in USAID’s Civil Society Organization (CSO) Sustainability Index have civil society sectors that were deemed financially sustainable, the Center for International Private Enterprise notes:

Donors have traditionally focused civil society support on short-term objectives, with concerns for sustainability addressed only at a project’s end. Rarely is CSO sustainability part of the initial design. Can development partners strengthen local organizations to be financially independent and mission-driven, especially in a time of shrinking donor funding?

Fortunately, some CSOs have succeeded in breaking the donor dependency cycle. Using a range of examples from village polytechnics in Kenya to healthcare associations in Afghanistan and rural utility providers in the Philippines, we will examine how they did it and how we can use these lessons to influence how development projects should be designed and how they should engage local CSOs differently. The following panel discussion will feature two experts on building sustainable civil society organizations, and an expert from USAID’s Center of Excellence on Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance. 

The Center for International Private Enterprise invites you to a panel discussion on:

Building Sustainable Civil Society Organizations from Within

Thursday, November 16, 2017 2:30 – 4:00pm 1211 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 700 Washington, DC Refreshments will be provided


Richard C. O’Sullivan, Principal, Change Management Solutions

Shannon N. Green, Senior Fellow, Human Rights Initiative, Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS)

Maryanne Yerkes, Senior Civil Society and Youth Advisor, Center of Excellence on Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance, USAID

Lars Benson, Regional Director, Africa, Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) (discussion moderator)


See CIPE website for speaker bios. RSVP here!

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