Along with people from around the world, I have been following the tragic turn of events in Ukraine with huge concern. The assault on Ukraine by Russian armed forces in the early hours of Thursday morning was an unprovoked violation of national sovereignty and territory in flagrant contravention of international law. The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and the Open Government Partnership (OGP) stand in solidarity with its stakeholders in Ukraine at this tremendously difficult time.
Ukraine has been a staunch supporter of transparency and accountability through both the EITI and the OGP. It joined the EITI in 2013 with the aim of strengthening governance and reducing corruption in its extractive sector. Mining, oil and gas play a central role in Ukraine’s economy, and recent efforts to improve governance of the extractive sector, particularly on revenue, license and beneficial ownership transparency have set a strong example in the region. The EITI’s success in Ukraine has been built on core democratic values and the free engagement of the government, civil society and companies. The current situation puts these freedoms at huge risk, and undermines the ability of Ukraine to continue along its chosen path.
Ukraine has been a member of the OGP since 2011, and is a leader within the open government community in fighting corruption, and strengthening civic participation in public life. Ukraine’s bold reforms in public procurement, beneficial ownership transparency and sale of public assets have been built on strong collaboration between the government, civil society and media, and have inspired countries around the world to strive for similar results. Ukraine’s achievements in OGP are a visible demonstration of the courage of reformers who work relentlessly to strengthen their democracy.
All this progress will be massively set back by further Russian occupation of Ukraine’s sovereign territory. Ukraine’s achievements in fostering public debate and promoting civil society engagement would be among the casualties of this conflict should it be forced back into a form of government which its people have previously rejected. Governance advances in the extractive sector, so carefully honed during the past decade of democratic transition, would be halted in their tracks.
On behalf of the EITI, I express our strong solidarity with our Ukrainian colleagues and stakeholders. We stand with them and offer our firm support during these dreadful times. We share their values and applaud their courage in upholding open government and transparency in the face of unjustified foreign aggression.