Na­tional se­cu­rity over­hauled:

What’s new for Ukraine’s de­fense and se­cu­rity in­sti­tu­tions in the Pres­i­dent’s na­tional se­cu­rity draft law?

The Ukrainian Week - - CONTENTS - Yuriy La­payev

What’s new for Ukraine’s de­fense and se­cu­rity in­sti­tu­tions in the Pres­i­dent’s na­tional se­cu­rity draft law?

At his lat­est press con­fer­ence on Fe­bru­ary 28, Petro Poroshenko men­tioned the draft law on the na­tional se­cu­rity of Ukraine among im­por­tant ini­tia­tives. Au­thored by him, this doc­u­ment had been sub­mit­ted to the Verkhovna Rada at No8028 shortly be­fore for im­me­di­ate re­view.

This draft law shifts the ac­cents in Ukraine’s ap­proach to na­tional se­cu­rity. It re­places the wider and more en­com­pass­ing no­tions used be­fore with the out­line of key ar­eas that largely fo­cus on mil­i­tary threats, state se­cu­rity, law and or­der. Other is­sues, such as eco­nomic, en­vi­ron­men­tal and en­ergy se­cu­rity, are to be tack­led in other doc­u­ments.

This ap­proach can help Ukraine set more spe­cific tasks and con­trol their ful­fill­ment bet­ter. This is one of the rea­sons why this draft law, even if im­por­tant, may have a hard time pass­ing through par­lia­ment. Those tasked with en­forc­ing these changes in the fu­ture are prob­a­bly not ready to do so. There­fore, they are likely to re­sist the pass­ing of it.

The draft law shifts the se­cu­rity pri­or­i­ties from the more lib­eral ones fo­cused pri­mar­ily on se­cu­rity of in­di­vid­u­als fol­lowed by en­sur­ing the coun­try’s ex­is­tence, to the more clas­sic ones — the preser­va­tion of the coun­try as an en­tity of state au­thor­i­ties. This looks timely given the sit­u­a­tion around Ukraine. If the draft law is passed, most laws and by­laws on the work of de­fense and se­cu­rity au­thor­i­ties will have to be amended ac­cord­ingly.

Apart from that, the draft law es­tab­lishes the cur­rent state of Ukraine’s se­cu­rity as the start­ing point from which to move for­ward. Prior draft laws fo­cused more on what should come as a re­sult of their en­force­ment, thus for­mu­lat­ing the fu­ture. The new ap­proach comes closer to the sit­u­a­tion on the ground but of­fers no an­swers on the gen­eral vec­tor of de­vel­op­ment.

The ma­jor changes re­fer to the Armed Forces of Ukraine. One is the in­tro­duc­tion of com­man­der-in-chief po­si­tion in ad­di­tion to the Chief of the Gen­eral Staff. This is a log­i­cal con­ti­nu­ity of the power di­vi­sion tra­di­tion in Ukraine’s army where ev­ery mil­i­tary unit has a com­man­der who takes de­ci­sions and is ac­count­able for them, and chiefs of staff who pre­pare these de­ci­sions for the com­man­der. It will also legally stream­line the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion where the Chief of the Gen­eral Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces de facto acts as Com­man­der-in-Chief as well. Chief of the Gen­eral Staff will re­port to Com­man­der-in-Chief. Pres­i­dent re­mains in the po­si­tion of Supreme Com­man­der.

An­other change is in the de­scrip­tion of port­fo­lio for a new Armed Forces po­si­tion, the Joint Forces Com­man­der. This of­fi­cial will re­port to the Com­man­der-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and be in charge of op­er­a­tional con­trol, plan­ning of use and man­age­ment of all joint forces. This cre­ates a ver­ti­cal mil­i­tary hi­er­ar­chy where the mil­i­tary will gain max­i­mum com­pe­ten­cies for the en­force­ment of the new De-Oc­cu­pa­tion Law. This au­thor­ity also brings full re­spon­si­bil­ity for any­thing hap­pen­ing in the war area, which is not al­ways a plus for the mil­i­tary.

This will most likely lead to covert com­pe­ti­tion for spheres of con­trol be­tween de­fense and se­cu­rity en­ti­ties, which hardly im­proves their over­all ef­fi­ciency.

The ap­point­ment of a civil­ian de­fense min­is­ter is one of the most de­bated as­pects of the draft law. The na­ture of this of­fice re­quires the min­is­ter to be a po­lit­i­cal fig­ure, a proac­tive ad­vo­cate of his or her do­main’s in­ter­ests, in­clud­ing in con­fronta­tions with MPs or other min­is­ters. By con­trast to civil­ians, the mil­i­tary should be be­yond pol­i­tics and have no right to con­flicts or dis­putes. They should ful­fill or­ders, not dis­cuss them.

A civil­ian min­is­ter of de­fense would bring forth more ac­count­abil­ity, trans­parency and civil­ian con­trol as rec­om­mended by NATO. There­fore, the draft­ing of the bill dis­cussed here in­volved in­ter­na­tional ex­perts from the Euro­pean Union Ad­vi­sory Mis­sion (EUAM) and NATO Li­ai­son Of­fice in Ukraine. Ac­cord­ing to Ukraine’s Min­istry of De­fense, its of­fi­cials and rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Armed Forces Gen­eral Staff were not in­volved in the process. The mil­i­tary are ex­pected to of­fer their pro­pos­als on the draft law af­ter its sub­mis­sion to the Verkhovna Rada.

Demo­cratic civil­ian con­trol is an im­por­tant aspect of the draft law. Ob­vi­ously, no de­fense or se­cu­rity en­tity wants ex­tra pub­lic­ity or open­ness given the specifics of its work. How­ever, ex­ces­sive se­crecy is a good cover for cor­rupt abuse or fail­ure to ful­fill their tasks. The draft law con­tains a num­ber of pro­vi­sions that are largely based on the Con­sti­tu­tion of Ukraine. The goal is to pre­vent changes in fa­vor of one or an­other de­fense or se­cu­rity en­tity in vi­o­la­tion of Ukraine’s ba­sic law. As it of­ten hap­pens in Ukraine’s leg­is­la­tion, the devil is in the de­tail. This frag­ment of the draft law is hardly per­fect. It is now up to MPs to look for flaws in it and fix them.

This draft law shifts the ac­cents in Ukraine’s ap­proach to se­cu­rity. It re­places the wider no­tions with the out­line of key ar­eas that fo­cus on mil­i­tary threats, state se­cu­rity, law and or­der

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