Odesa oblast branch of the all-Ukrainian community organisation
"Committee of Voters of Ukraine"
The Odesa oblast branch of the all-Ukrainian community organisation "Committee of Voters of Ukraine" is an independent non-governmental organisation and a leader in democratisation and human rights protection.
Its mission is to deliver and actively participate in positive changes in Ukraine, promote fair election principles and democratisation of government institutions, advocate for people's rights, and accelerate the development of civil society institutions.
The Brief History of the Organisation
The organisation was founded in 1998. Until 2005, its activity was mostly related to election processes.
Since 2005, the organisation has been substantially expanding the areas of its activities: human rights protection, civil society development, democratic institutions promotion, and monitoring political parties and specific individuals. In 2008, the organisation started supporting free mass media and created an independent online newspaper "IzbirCom".
In 2007, the Odesa oblast branch of the all-Ukrainian civic organisation "CVU" started taking on interregional projects and has since consistently sought to become a local centre of community activities, especially in the South of Ukraine. In 2011, the organisation started to undertake national projects, expanding the scope of its work into the other regions of Ukraine.
In 2006, it joined the first network of NGOs and now is an active member of five such networks.
Since 2014, the organisation has been launching its unique products and initiatives, initiating interregional coalitions of NGOs, and coordinating them: the civic network "For the Transparency of Local Budgets!", the all-Ukrainian civic campaign "Performance Review of Local Council Deputies" that engages partnership organisations, the Coordination Office of Safety, the Community Centre of Justice, and the Centre of Public Investigations.
The organisation has preserved its historical name and formal status of an oblast department of the all-Ukrainian organisation. However, it still exercises its independent policies and consistently introduces its initiatives nationwide.
The Main Areas of Activity:
- promoting the principles of fairness and transparency in elections
- the democratisation of political and governmental practices
- integrity and effectiveness of local budget processes
- legal capacity of local communities and human rights protection
- support of mass media and democratic journalism
Location: The organisation operates in all the oblasts of Ukraine through partnership networks and experts involved.
The organisation provides annual public reports on its activities.
The Organisation Structure
The principal executive body of the organisation is the General Meeting. In between general meetings, the principal executive body of the organisation is the General Board. The General Board is composed of five people elected by the General Meeting.
The organisation staff includes 14 people (senior and middle managers).
Additionally, there are more than 70 experts and up to 500 volunteers involved.
The organisation's material and technical base comprises the premises of the public head office, equipped to host media events, the premises of local offices and a counselling office.
The organisation structure is based on programme areas and includes administrative departments (such as Finance, Administration, Information, and Accounting).
The Organisation Standards
The organisation works according to its Development Strategy, the Policy on Financial, Material and Human Resources Management, Conflict Prevention and Management and the Code of Corporate Conduct.
The organisation operates on the principles of gender equality and inclusiveness.
In terms of technologies, we aspire to stay transparent and hold on to information security; therefore, we use only the licensed Microsoft products thanks to our partnership with TechSoup Ukraine. Moreover, we work with the ecosystem of Google tools and WorkSpace toolset for nonprofit organisations.
Networks and Coalitions
The organisation is a member of many all-Ukrainian networks of community organisations:
- a coordinator for the civil network "For the Transparency of Local Budgets!"
- a regional partner of the community organisation "OPORA"
- is a regional partner of the documentary film festival devoted to human rights "Docudays UA"
- a member of the all-Ukrainian civic organisation CVU, the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union and the network "Ukraine Community Initiatives".
The Key Achievements in the Main Areas of Activity
Promotion of Transparent and Fair Elections
In 1998-2020, the organisation conducted complex monitoring of all the national electoral campaigns such as presidential elections, parliamentary elections, the elections to the local councils, and the elections of the city and town mayors in the Odesa oblast (18 electoral campaigns in total).
Since 2012, the organisation has partnered with the civic organisation "OPORA" in the Odesa oblast. During the 2015 Odesa city mayor elections, the organisation successfully recruited and trained more than 500 election observers. It ensured the proper observation of all t polling stations in Odesa on the election day and provided the most independent election observation in the city's history.
Since 2006, the organisation has provided relevant training for all the district, territorial and local election commissions in the Odesa oblast during national electoral campaigns. During the 2012 parliamentary election, the organisation coordinated and held centralised training for members of local election commissions in all the regions of Ukraine. Such a complex non-governmental initiative became the first in Ukrainian history.
Since 2014, the organisation has been an IFES' partner in the South of Ukraine. Moreover, since 2014, the organisation has advised law enforcement officials about their duties during electoral campaigns and suggested efficient algorithms to prevent electoral law breaches.
In 2018, the organisation co-founded the educational Romani Political Participation Centre and, in 2018-2020, ran a learning programme "Romani School of Political and Community Participation". It was the first efficient initiative in Ukraine on enabling the Romani community to take part and influence the local policies.
In 2020, the organisation co-founded the first Ukrainian Museum of Elections.
In 2020, the CVU aligned with the Central Election Commission and the IFES to model the voting process according to the new Electoral Code of Ukraine amid COVID-19 quarantine restrictions. During the 2020 local elections, the Central Election Commission considered the modelling-based recommendations offered by the CVU experts.
The democratisation of Political and Governmental Practices
In 2015, this area of CVU's activity grew into a national initiative for local deputies' higher transparency and accountability called "Performance Review of Local Deputies". The organisation currently works in two dimensions: a) local councillors and local councils to examine their transparency, accountability, and ways to improve it, b) local communities to raise their awareness of 1. local deputies' functions, 2. possibilities to interact with local deputies to address local problems, 3. their work with local councils.
"Performance Review of Local Deputies " aims to engage citizens in democratic processes in Ukraine more actively. In particular, the organisation prepared the register of private interests for 16 councillors from administrative centres. It helps journalists and public activists actively participate in corruption prevention and counteraction in their local communities. The organisation also launches youth awareness-raising campaigns.
Awareness-raising campaigns cover up to 250,000 people. The audience of the initiative ("Performance Review of Local Council Deputies") itself has grown by 65% since it was first launched. Local deputies' transparency and accountability in 16 administrative oblast centres have increased by 20-80%. The local councils of 7 cities (administrative centres) introduced institutional changes as for the level of the transparency and accountability of their deputies.
During the 2015-2020 election cycle, such recommendations were most actively implemented by local deputies: disclosure of information about deputies, publication of their biographies, the information about deputies' counselling offices (14 local councils of administrative oblast centres), comprehensive reports according to the requirements of the applicable legislation (13 local councils of administrative oblast centres), publication of reports (11 local councils of administrative oblast centres), reporting to citizens on deputies' work and activity (10 local councils of administrative oblast centres). The organisation also progressed in terms of deputies' counselling the local citizens (9 local councils of administrative oblast centres) and holding public accountability reports (6 local councils of administrative oblast centres).
In addition to the local councillors, the organisation also impacted the Ukrainian MPs representing the Odesa oblast in the Verkhovna Rada. In this regard, the organisation has achieved some changes in communication between 5 MPs and the people they represent and introduced new formats of their interaction. We established active cooperation between the Ukrainian Members of Parliament and the representatives of the local advocacy groups on the problems in their electoral district.
On this matter, for the first time in the Odesa oblast, we assessed the infrastructural readiness of local governments to introduce the digital democracy tools. There was also a series of events to increase the capacities of the local council executive bodies to use those tools. The local governments which took part in the programme started introducing the digital democracy tools in practice.
Integrity, Transparency and Effectiveness of Local Budget Processes
In 2014, the organisation founded the civil network "For the Transparency of Local Budgets!" It is the first and only network of civic organisations in Ukraine focused exclusively on raising the standards of integrity, transparency and efficiency of local budget processes and ensuring citizens' participation in these processes. Our organisation has been the coordinator, key participant, and infrastructural base of all the network's initiatives since 2014. It is a unique horizontal network comprising 19 NGOs from 15 oblasts of Ukraine.
In 2017, the network worked out a unique and innovative Assessment Methodology of Transparency of Local Budgets within the initiative and created an online platform: https://tlb.in.ua. In 2018 and 2019, employing this Assessment Methodology, the organisation conducted two National Assessments of Transparency of Local Budgets in 36 cities of Ukraine (all the oblast centres, Kyiv, and 106 amalgamated territorial communities). Recommendations on raising the transparency level, given to the towns and communities after the assessment, boosted the transparency level from 47.5% to 51% on average in administrative oblast centres and from 21.3% to 39% on average in amalgamated territorial communities.
From 2018 to 2020, "The Budget for Citizens" format was first adapted and successfully piloted in Ukraine. 150 "Budgets for Citizens" were prepared, printed, and distributed in 95 amalgamated territorial communities of 16 oblasts (50 – 2018, 75 – 2019, 28 – 2020) with a total circulation of 100,500 copies.
In 2018 and 2019, there were two national campaigns called "Impact the Your Community's Budget!", with more than 120 communities in 7 oblasts involved; there were more than 12,000 citizens' proposals on amalgamated territorial communities' budgets. More than 24,000 people took part in the events.
The network aims to raise the integrity standards of local governments. In 2017, we developed a kit of anti-corruption tools: an anti-corruption programme, clauses on prevention and management of conflicts of interest, public consultations, creating supervisory boards for utility companies, conducting anti-corruption audits, establishing an anti-corruption committee, and a competitive approach to appointments. In 2017 -2020, over 160 anti-corruption tools were introduced in 95 communities and 16 oblasts.
The network implements different field-specific initiatives in the public sector. In 2018-2020, the "Methodology for Monitoring the Use of Public Funds at Educational Institutions and Health Care Facilities" was created and successfully piloted in 19 communities of 13 oblasts. Also, 53 supervisory boards for educational institutions and health care facilities were established in 19 communities.
Legal Capacity of Local Communities and Human Rights Protection
Since 2011, the organisation has consistently defended human rights through targeted legal aid and promoting strategic legal cases (including those in the European Court of Human Rights). The lawyers from our organisation, who also give legal aid at the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union, defended the victims of the Romani pogroms in Loshchynivka and the participants of the Odesa Equality March, who became victims of the illegal actions of the law enforcement officials. The organisation's most significant national human rights initiative so far is to identify, confirm, and draw public attention to the issue of statelessness in Ukraine (2014-2015). The issue roots in the collapse of the Soviet Union. The organisation's activity prompted the Ukrainian government to address the problem in a non-discriminatory way. In 2020, the procedure of determining the status of a stateless individual was legally regulated.
Since 2013, the organisation has been a regional partner of the documentary film festival "Docudays UA", focused on human rights. The organisation also runs the annual Travelling Festival in Odesa oblast.
In 2019, one of the first Ukrainian Community Centres of Justice was founded by the organisation and on its basis. It is a multifunctional hub that develops "friendly" justice in communities and promotes a new cooperation format for the judiciary, local authorities and citizens, based on mutual trust and responsibility. The Community Centre of Justice specialises in supporting: 1) inclusive legal, administrative, and social services; 2) a system of justice orientated towards an individual and their needs before, during and after the trial; 3) alternative and more efficient ways of settling conflicts without turning to the judiciary; 4) citizens' ability to settle their conflicts lawfully and defend their rights. In 2020, the Community Centre of Justice became one of the first in Ukraine to raise the questions of justice accessibility and respect for human rights amid the COVID-19 pandemic. There were campaigns for ensuring human rights under the quarantine restrictions, helping victims of domestic violence, and counter-acting discriminatory government decisions.
In 2011-2014, the organisation developed the non-governmental system and standards of free legal aid through the Legal Aid Centres. The organisation's experience was described and included in the manual "Legal Aid in Communities" and recommended for introduction in Ukrainian communities. The organisation was also a co-founder and an active member of the all-Ukrainian Network of Centres of Legal Advice, which later transformed into the Legal Development Network. Having established the governmental system of free legal aid, the organisation put its effort to enhance local communities' legal capacity and independence. Another aspect of the organisation's activity is making a safe environment a shared responsibility of the police, local authorities and citizens.
In 2017, the Coordination Office of Safety was founded. In Ukraine, it is a unique model of cooperation on safety in communities. Between 2017 and 2020, the Office's effort brought about considerable progress: it developed and piloted a universal assessment tool ("Community Safety Certificate"); the police and other law enforcement officials participated in cooperation with the community; a situation room with CCTV surveillance, as well as the Female Self-Defence School were set up. The Office also created a Romani advisor office and a police "green room" to work with adolescents. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Office's work set an excellent example of encouraging social unity in communities.
Support of Mass Media and Democratic Journalism
The organisation founded the independent media group "IzbirKom" (a newspaper and a website), a recognised leader among the regional media.
Since 2015, the organisation has been an organiser and a provider of many media literacy programmes. It held two media literacy forums, more than 150 events to promote critical thinking and eliminate hate speech. It designed and piloted a unique methodology on media monitoring and conducted numerous pieces of media research.
In 2017, the organisation founded a coalition of citizen journalists called "The Centre of Public Investigations". It brought together over 50 local journalists and activists. Their cooperation resulted in inspections, criminal proceedings, and changes in the local governments' work.
The Odesa oblast all-Ukrainian civic organisation "Committee of Voters of Ukraine" follows the principles of transparency and accountability to the society when using the funds it received to support its activity. Our organisation has experience in successfully implementing large-scale projects with the help of partnership networks and diversified sources of funding.
The funding that supported the organisation's projects in 2018-2020 amounted to UAH 44,854,349.
The funds were received from the following organisations: the European Commission, National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the USAID programmes: DOBRE, RADA, "New Justice", the United Nations Development Programme, the IFES, the International Renaissance Foundation, the Internews Network, the Eastern Europe Fund, Open Information Partnership (UK), the Embassy of the Netherlands, the MATRA programme, Black Sea Trust for Regional Cooperation, International Alert Ukraine, Yednannia (Joining Forces) - Initiative Centre to Support Social Action, GURT Resource Center.
Director: Anatoliy Boyko
Postal Adress: 65023 Odesa, P.O. box №209
The Website of the Independent Newspaper "IzbirKom"
Website of the Campaign "Performance Review of Local Council Deputies"
"Performance Review of Local Council Deputies" Facebook
Website of the Civil Network "For the Transparency of Local Budgets!"
"For the Transparency of Local Budgets!" Facebook
Facebook of the Odesa Centre of Public Investigations
Website of the Museum of Elections
Facebook of the Museum of Elections
Facebook of the Community Centre of Justice