Greater Than the Sum of Its Parts
The Secretariat of the Coalition would like to thank the following people and organizations for their support.
John Kubinec of Freedom House in Kyiv, who through his constructive criticism has assisted us in improving on this case study, and in other areas as well.
To Freedom House and the Royal Embassy of the Netherlands in Ukraine for their support of the Secretariat and Administrative Operations.
Sylvia Babus, of the Democracy Office of USAID in Kyiv, for her cooperation and constant attention to the Coalition.
Maria Dotsenko, of the Democracy Office of USAID in Kyiv, for her cooperation and her regular consultation, and long hours committed in helping the work of the Coalition.
Valerie Wright, Tim Vikkry and Marianna Budzheryn for their assistance.
To all our member organizations, volunteers and friends, who with all their energy and knowledge assisted the Coalition in order that elections be conducted fairly and honestly, and for their contribution to the development of civic society in Ukraine.
The Secretariat of the Coalition
Desiatynna 1/3, P.O. Box 193
Kyiv, Ukraine, 01025
Author: Vladislav Kaskiv, Director of the Communications Development Center, Freedom of Choice Coalition Coordinator
Co-Author: Bill (Vasyl) Pawlowsky, Canadian Volunteer, Director of International Relations, Freedom of Choice Coalition Coordinator.
Greater Than the Sum of Its PartsExecutive Summary
March 15, 1999 marked the beginning of an unprecedented period in contemporary Ukrainian history in regard to the third sector and volunteerism. With the knowledge of Presidential elections taking place on October 31, 1999 in conjunction with the lack of concrete reforms, the poor economic situation, and threats on freedom of speech, a core group of Non-Governmental organizations united to form the Coalition of NGO’s “Freedom of Choice”. At it’s inception, the Coalition had just over 100 member organizations, though by the time election day had arrived it had grown to 269 NGOs from all regions of Ukraine, representing numerous areas of interest.
As individual organizations and as a united front they worked on projects that were aimed at accomplishing three major tasks. Firstly, to conduct an educational campaign for voters, informing voters of their rights. Secondly, to encourage voters, particularly young voters, to participate in the electoral process and to inform them that their individual voices do make a difference. Their third task was to ensure that elections were carried out freely and fairly, in adherence to the principles of the law, in the framework of a civic society.
Throughout the election period member organizations cooperated in a number of different areas and developed solutions to problems. Most importantly, they were able to demonstrate the importance of volunteerism as an instrument of change. Projects that were undertaken were focused on different area, though when conducted as part of a united front, they were more effective than if they had been conducted individually.
Freedom of Choice Coalition - Ukraine
The Coalition was successful at achieving its goals and objectives. The main impact of such work was that it contributed to a transformation of post totalitarian society. The Coalition proved wrong individuals who do not believe that they can’t change government or government policy and that initiative is a negative thing. The cooperation and volunteerism that existed in the Coalition should not be looked at as many separate NGOs, but rather as a whole, in which the effect of the work accomplished was greater than the sum of its parts.
Main Calendar of Events
March 15, 1999 Formation of the Coalition Freedom of Choice Coalition
March 17, 1999 Press Conference to announce the declaration of the Freedom of Choice Coalition
Beginning of April 1999 Formation of the Coordination Council of the Coalition
Mid-April 1999 Annotated Collection of over 180 projects compiled outlining the multifarious and wide ranging plans.
End-April 1999 Formation of the Secretariat of the Coalition
September 18-19 General Conference of members of the Freedom of Choice Coalition
End of May 1999 Visit from four members of the Slovak Coalition for consultation and planning. Coalition grows to over 150 members.
October 31, 1999 First round of Presidential Elections
November 14, 1999 Second round of Presidential Elections
December 2-3, 1999 Conference of the Freedom of Choice Coalition - Lessons and Perspectives.
Formation of the Coalition
From the time of the “velvet revolution” and the first years of Ukraine’s independence NGOs have slowly been making inroads in influencing society. Most notable is the role of NGOs in addressing some of the greatest national problems – Chernobyl, social services, legal and economic education, support for professional groups, and ecology. One of the greatest remaining problems is the active role of citizens in socio-political processes, primarily in elections.
Some of the main problems that were faced leading up to elections were the following:
· Citizens of the country did not believe in the rhetoric of the politicians in regard to democratic reforms;
· Citizens do not believe that their voice is decisive;
· Primary priorities of both internal and external political development of the country have not been established.
The atmosphere created by these problems contributed to the formation of the Coalition.
Additional problems and factors that influenced the formation of the Coalition was the practical absence of “positive” candidates that represented radical political and economic reforms, pluralist thinking and a desire to integrate into world and European structures.
During the first democratic elections to the Ukrainian Parliament in 1994 a number of NGOs conducted projects aimed at the democratization of the electoral process and the conducting of fair elections. These organizations with the opportunity created the national program “Freedom of Choice” and the United Press-Center “Elections –94”. Both of these initiatives worked in specific areas: “Freedom of Choice” conducted a number of activities (concerts, meetings, and seminars), prepared and distributed educational and propaganda materials. Activities focused on educating voters on electoral laws, election procedures, encouraging voters to take part in the electoral process. The United Press-Center monitored mass media, published an information bulletin, and monitored the electoral process.
NGO leaders of earlier initiatives during previous elections came together and formed the Freedom of Choice Coalition on March 15, 1999. The main goal of this initiative was to conduct an all Ukrainian campaign aiming to support fair and free elections, and to ensure maximal upholding of democratic principles, based on human rights and freedoms.” The founders of the Coalition held a press conference on March 22, 1999 to announce its formation, and presented their Declaration to the public. A key aspect of their Declaration was that their work would be non-partisan.
Structure of the Coalition
Unlike many organizational structures that are either pyramidal or vertical, the structure of the Coalition was purposely built horizontally in order to be as open as possible to all member NGOs. All
member organizations had equal rights in making decisions, regardless of geographic location, size or organizational capacity.
The initiators understood that there would need to be some form of structural mechanism to make decisions on behalf of the Coalition. The Coordination Council was formed from representatives of the founding member organizations. One or two coordinators were chosen for each of the following spheres of activity that were to be undertaken by the coalition: organizational, analysis and sociological research, voter mobilization, voter education, working with the Mass Media (Public Relations), radio and television projects, citizen oversight (election monitoring), populations with special needs.
In order to disperse of bureaucratic structure and to not give one organization authority over others it was decided not to have a head of this coordination council. At the same time it was decide upon a single meeting place for members of the member NGOs. Coordination Council and its frequency. The right to take part in meetings of the Coordination Council (besides Coordinators) was open to all representatives of member-organizations with equal voting rights in order for deciding common decisions. Decisions were decided by majority of those present at meetings of the Coordinators of the Coalition and representatives of member NGOs and coordinators.
In conjunction with the Coordination Council being formed, it was decided that Institute of Mass Information would be responsible for administering the Secretariat. Staffed by volunteers and staff of other NGO members, it was supported by grants from The Royal Embassy of the Netherlands in Ukraine and Freedom House. The Secretariat developed a mechanism coordinating the cooperation of Coalition member organizations and a system of information exchange and communication amongst themselves and with donor structures operating in Ukraine.
In order to address the problems of social apathy that had resulted due to corruption and oversight during previous elections and in that citizens did not believe that their vote has an influence on government and to deal with the possibility of oversight during the actual election the Coalition had three focus areas for their activities:
· Voter Education;
· Voter Mobilization;
· Election Monitoring.
Coalition member organizations were requested to submit to the Secretariat summaries of projects they planned on implementing during the election campaign. As a result, 198 project summaries were gathered from 143 NGOs from all regions of Ukraine. The projects were categorized into the above three focus areas. In doing so the Secretariat was able to suggest possible cooperation between organizations, combination of projects for greater cost effectiveness, and methods of integrating regional projects with a nationwide scope.
Electoral Forum of Donors
With the consolidation of the activities of Ukrainian NGOs within the framework of the Freedom of Choice Coalition, 32 donor organizations and embassies that are active in Ukraine came together to form the Electoral Forum of Donors. The Forum carried out a complex examination of election related projects, coordinated funding decisions and agreed upon the support of initiatives aimed at ensuring fair and free elections.
In May of 1999, the Electoral Forum of Donors started reviewing proposals of Ukrainian NGOs .Meetings of the Forum took place on a regular basis until the end of the election campaign (November 14, 1999). A single grant form was developed and agreed upon by all donors funding election related projects. The Forum reviewed more than 200 projects, 84 of which were funded to the sum of $953, 018 USD, 69 of which were projects of Coalition member projects.
It is important to note that most project support came from organizations working under the framework of USAID. The Canadian Embassy played an important role in financing 12% of the projects put forth by the Coalition. Unfortunately there was a low level of support from European partners with one exception - the Royal Embassy of the Netherlands played an active role in supporting numerous projects.
Financing of the Freedom of Choice Projects
Member organizations of the Freedom of Choice Coalition completed 126 different projects, a portion of which are outlined in this case. One hundred and eighty-six organizations participated directly in the realization of projects. Approximately $1.5 million USD were spent to implement all of these projects:
· Approximately $1 million – financial support of donor and partner organizations;
· $300,000 – resources of all NGOs;
· $150,000 – in the way of material and in-kind donations from commercial partners.
Clearly the greatest portion of financing came from donor organizations and embassies, however, the contribution made by NGOs as well as the private sector was also considerable. The commercial sector in Ukraine is becoming more aware of the important role of NGOs in the process of building a democratic society. The private sector provided the Freedom of Choice Coalition member organizations with in-kind donations such as: communications services, television and radio air time and transportation.
Although financial support was of great importance in the realization of a great part of all projects, one cannot overlook the importance of volunteers during the campaign and the projects that were undertaken.
Projects and Activities
With elections approaching many Freedom of Choice Coalition member organizations looked at their projects as a contribution towards long-term goals and the development of democratic reforms in society. These took on many different forms. Some were clearly focused on local populations, others had a national audience in mind.
With social apathy as a main problem on the eve of elections, two areas of focus of projects that were key were those that were aimed at voter education and voter mobilization. These projects took on multifarious forms; some involved state of the art electronic media, while others were rooted in age-old Ukrainian traditions.
Voter Education and Informational Projects
One representative of a regional organization noted that upon arriving in Kyiv in mid-October that the atmosphere was not one that he would expect during an electoral campaign. The lack of election billboards and posters in the capital was in stark contrast to his region where posters had sprung up everywhere. In both of these environments it was extremely important that impartial and factual information was making its way to voters. This was accomplished through many different projects that played both an important educational role and indirectly may have influenced voter turnout.
Employing the Media
As presidential candidates did little to discuss or address issues of the nation, many organizations held round table discussions, radio talk shows, and events to openly discuss problems. In total over 2000 public discussions were held, attracting local, regional and national media to cover these topics. The 19 round table discussions that took place in Kyiv, were covered by over 228 journalists and received regular coverage in the press. While NGOs in the capital conducted such round tables many other such activities took place throughout all regions of Ukraine.
In Western Ukraine, the Ukraine’s Revival Fund in Truskavets with the assistance of over 50 volunteers held 24 seminars, 8 lectures and 12 debates throughout Lviv Oblast, where attendance and coverage by the media was no less impressive. The Association of Journalists “Pivden’” held a seminar entitled “Youth NGOs and the “Mass Media” for leaders of youth organizations. The result of the seminar was the publication of a special youth newspaper encouraging youth to take an active role in the Presidential elections. In addition to this seminar the Association of Journalists “Pivden” produced a video about 10 youth organizations in the region that were actively working on pre-election projects. “After watching the film, youth everywhere revealed an interest in working with youth NGOs, and with their approach to the current political situation in their country,” stated the project director Olena Afanasieva.
Other such events were held in all regions of Ukraine and received coverage from media, and drew attention to the work of NGOs.
While regional organizations worked locally, the Secretariat of the Freedom of Choice Coalition developed the Hot Line project. This newswire service provided election related information on a daily basis from August until November. Including both raw uncensored information as well as some analytical data, NGO members used this information in their publications that they distributed to their constituents, while radio stations and newspapers included this information as a regular part of their election coverage.
Distributed free of charge to regional radio, television and newspapers, member organizations, donors and interested individuals, it was published both in Ukrainian and English, it is estimated that this information reached an audience of close to 4 million.
The far reaching effect that the sum of these projects that employed the mass media to reach their audience cannot be underestimated, when much of the programming on radio and television, and in the print media, was void of objective information on the candidates.
Print Materials and Dissemination
Educational materials were published in many different forms. In some cases they were simply flyers, in others printed materials were produced as part of an activity, while in the third case materials took on the form of booklets aimed at a particular audience. These materials in their various forms were distributed not only on a local level but on a national level as well.
Where many organizations used contemporary media to reach their audience, the Guild of Kobzars, musicians who are working at preserving and reviving traditional music as a form of public education. Much in the way that minstrels traveled the countryside of Europe in centuries past, Kobzars traditionally played the role of disseminating information, and singing about social injustices. The project “Kobzar’s – Elections ‘99” was developed as an educational activity using the traditional form of the interaction of traditional musicians (Kobzars) with citizens in highly populated areas, such as markets and town squares. In the framework of this project, the Kobzars visited 25 cities in Eastern Ukraine and distributed 10,000 copies of educational materials and it is estimated that they performed to approximately 25,000 people.
The Committee of Voters of Ukraine published 200,000 leaflets on the election law and The Institute of Reforms published project “Economic Primer for Voters”. In the framework of this project 168,000 brochures, 500,000 leaflets and 10,000 posters. Laboratory F-4 published a booklet and accompanying poster on the voting procedures. The Information Consultative Center in Poltava distributed several hundred thousand copies of voter education material.
The Khmelnytsky Oblast Fund of the Charity and Health focused their project on in the 125 medical institutions of Ternopil, Rivne, Chernivetsk, Khmelnystk and Vynnytsia Oblasts. This target group numbers close to 40,000 individuals had very little contact with the traditional media sources while in hospital. A booklet entitled “The Rights and Responsibilities of voters in Medical Institutions” was printed for every ten individuals in hospital and were distributed as were copies of the platforms of all 15 Presidential candidates. In conjunction with the producing of these printed materials seminars were conducted for health care workers in order for them to help inform patients about the electoral process.
Putting together the copy for this material was a task in itself, but one cannot overlook the work of the volunteers who participated in the distribution of these materials. Over 50 organizations as sisted in distributing materials produced by Laboratory F-4 and the Institute of Reforms throughout all regions of Ukraine. As a whole, more than 5 million copies of informational-educational materials were published and distributed approximately 40 tons of paper. Clearly this would have not been possible without the cooperation and coordinated efforts of the Freedom of Choice Coalition member organization 79% of which are located outside of the capital.
With social apathy being one of the greatest problems faced on the eve of Presidential elections, the Freedom of Choice Coalition member organizations took on a number of projects that were aimed at getting the vote out. These took on a number of different forms and were aimed at different target groups though a particular accent was placed on first time voters and young voters from ages 18-25.
The Ukrainian Youth Center in cooperation with the Communications Development Center produced a series public service announcements aimed at encouraging youth to go out and vote, in addition, with assistance from a leader of the Slovak Coalition “OK ‘98” (Marek Kapusta) they secured the right to adapt a number of PSAs produced by the “Rock the Vote” Educational fund in the United States forces in Ukraine. These video PSAs were broadcast more than 6,000 times during a one-month period.
Not only did voter mobilization take to the airwaves, it also took to the streets. In Kherson, over 200 youth prepared a nine-meter long banner with their messages to the future president of Ukraine and also participated in an inline skate marathon. They made their way on their inline skates along the streets of Kherson and encouraged their peers to participate in elections.
The Municipal NGO “Alliance” in Donetsk formed youth promotion teams that focused on areas were youth gathered. On the streets, squares and in discotheques and bars and disseminated information on the voting procedure to young voters. In addition, they conducted small contests where students and young voters were awarded small prizes for answering questions appropriately dealing with electoral laws and voting procedure.
Other organizations organized informational centers for the public where consultation was provided to citizens in regard to their voting rights. In fifteen cities in Kyiv, Chernihiv, Cherkass and Zhytomir Oblasts, 24,000 booklets on voters rights, 5,000 informational posters explaining the voting procedure, and 23,000 copies of the Law on elections were distributed.
A number of activities were organized that acted both as an educational forum, and as a means of activating youth to participate in elections. In particular these were the student elections, run by the Committee of Voters of Ukraine held on a Student Presidential elections on a national level were students voted for the presidential candidates, were made aware of electoral laws and voting procedures. Whereas the Mykolaiv branch of the Ukrainian Students’ Union held student elections where they voted for their own candidates. With these student elections being in compliance with election legislation, this activity played both an educational role for students as well as interesting them in participating in the elections.
Due to changes in electoral laws, NGOs were not allowed to directly observer elections during elections at the polls during the day, nor during the vote count. Nevertheless, member organizations of the Freedom of Choice Coalition conducted election monitoring in a number of different manners that were still in compliance with the law. Close to 40 international observers financed their own travel to Ukraine from the United States as part of a delegation from The Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, a Coalition member. These observers were able to observe the process during the first round of elections on October 31,1999 and a number of them reported violations. A group of four observers from NGOs in Belarus also monitored elections.
In a poll conducted by the Democratic Initiatives Foundation between the first and second rounds of elections 51.7% of respondents were aware of the role played by the Committee of Voters of Ukraine, and 47.9% felt that this task was very important and 33.9% felt that it was generally important. Such a response is indicative of the lack of trust of citizens in the processes that are taking place in their country.
While the Committee of Voters of Ukraine traditionally played an active in election monitoring the changes in electoral laws prohibited them from playing an active role as observers. However, the law did not prohibit journalists from being present at polling stations either during the day or during the counting of the ballots. This being the case, the Committee of Voters of Ukraine accredited 16,000 correspondents for their weekly newspaper who actively participated in monitoring elections.
In addition to traditional monitoring of elections conducted by the Committee of Voters of Ukraine, a parallel vote count was conducted as a check against fraudulent results, though this was not the only check that was used. The Regional Initiatives Foundation organized the project “Citizen Control Over the Vote Count” in which it together with over 43 NGOs throughout Ukraine, and delegates from seven of the thirteen Presidential Candidates offices gathered the election results directly from the polling stations throughout Ukraine during the first round of elections, in most of the information of the results were made and in turn relayed to a central office in Kyiv, where the results were tabulated to use as a check against the official results to be announced by the Central Elections Commission. This project was unprecedented as it involved the cooperation of 33,000 individuals throughout Ukraine all who had a vested interest in the validity of the electoral process. Although funding for this project was only received for the first round of elections, all parties who participated felt that this project was very important, and took the initiative in conducting the project at their own expense, however they were only able to cover one electoral district in each of Ukraine’s 25 Oblasts. With only two candidates in the second round of elections, the incumbent President, Leonid Kuchma and the Communist Party candidate Piotr Symonenko NGOs were only able secure cooperation of the collection of results from the Communist Party candidate.
With assistance of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the Democratic Initiatives Foundation conducted an exit poll during both rounds of elections. The results of both these polls were used during election night coverage on the top rated national television channel Studio 1+1. The results of both exit polls practically fell into line with the official election results. In order to give the exit poll and as well as the project “Citizen Control Over the Vote Count” additional exposure during election night, the Secretariat included these results alongthose of the Central Election Commission on their web-site. This data together with the election related news stories from the “Hot Line” project achieved a first place ranking on the PING system, where in less than a seven hour period the site received 5,000 visitors from all corners of the globe.
Achieving Goals and Objectives
In each of the focus areas of the projects of the Freedom of Choice Coalition, member organizations achieved notable results. Primarily, a high level of effectiveness was achieved in projects that were aimed at voter education. In a survey conducted by the Democratic Initiatives Foundation 60.9% of respondents found that the educational materials being distributed by NGOs to be useful. One of the main reasons for this was the following: none of the official channels or campaign offices of the presidential candidates took an active role in voter education, either in regard to the procedures for voting, voter rights, or in the importance of participating in the electoral process of each and every citizen.
In the area of voter mobilization it became clear from the aforementioned survey that the public service announcements that were broadcast throughout Ukraine also were relatively well received based on the sample of the survey. Close to 55% of respondents noted that they had seen such public service announcements. Of these respondents who had seen the pulbic service announcements 49% felt that these advertisements played an in important over very important role in mobilizing the vote.
The main value of such work was not only an increase in civic participation, but it also played a prime function of developing a basis for the transformation of post totalitarian thought. Within most post totalitarian societies in which initiative was often considered to be a sign of dissent, the ideas of volunteerism is not as developed as highly as in societies that are more strongly developed in principles of democracy and civic society.
Although many of the projects were realized by individual member organizations, the realization of many projects was due to the cooperation and cooperative initiatives of member organizations. The role of such cooperation can only set the precedent for future cooperation and can have an incredible significance not only during elections, but also in the democratic development of society. In the future we hope to see a growth of the number and size of open citizen initiatives aimed at finding solutions to the greatest problems in society.
Shortcomings and Problems
Regardless of the successes achieved by the Freedom of Choice Coalition, it is important to note that the Coalition did face problems. It is hoped that experience has been gained so that these problems can be overcome in the future. The lack of experience in the areas of cooperation and coordination hampered the full potential of coordinating activities and the exchange of information amongst organizations. In separate instances there was competition between organizations or a lack of understanding their need to participation in the democratization of elections. Through creating closer cooperation on certain projects within a framework, the Coalition allowed for the significant strengthening of cooperative efforts. One of the obstacles of conducting honest and fair elections was the passing of the discriminatory law “About the Elections of the President of Ukraine”. The problem is not that the law itself is “discriminatory” bat that it violates that articles of the Copenhagen Agreement (Convention) to which Ukraine is a signature.
Member organizations of the Coalition, and more specifically the Committee of Voters of Ukraine, lobbied on the point of the law that would allow NGOs to participate as election observers. Nevertheless, utilizing the law as it stood, members of the Freedom of Choice Coalition still managed to participate in the monitoring of elections.
Although member organizations from the Freedom of Choice Coalition conducted monitoring during the two rounds of elections, this activity in itself could not eliminate violations in election procedures. International observers, from the OSCE and those who were part of the delegation from the Ukrainian Congressional Committee of America noted many violations. These particularly existed in the areas of freedom of speech and equal opportunities for all candidates.
The Freedom of Choice Coalition often faced criticism from authorities in regard to their participation in the political process. However they often met this criticism in the following response. The participation of NGOs in the political process of elections does not foresee the battle for power, but is focused on ensuring democratic values: freedom of choice, freedom of speech, equal opportunity and the pluralism of thoughts. In a number of instances government representatives neither understood the role and function of NGOs in the electoral process nor their role in the development of a civic society.
The Freedom of Choice Coalition had originally planned to carry out a greater number activities than were actually implemented. For a variety of reasons, including financing, a number of these projects weren’t carried out. In some cases, the importance of remaining non-partisan played a role. In one instance, a member organization that decided to openly support one of the candidates openly declared that it was withdrawing its participation in the Coalition as it firmly believed in upholding the principles outlined in the Declaration of the Coalition. This action by the organization in question was considered as an honorable action, and set a good example for both other member organizations as well as Ukrainian society as a whole.
Conclusions and Lessons
The main conclusion that results from the activities of the Freedom of Choice Coalition is that in similar socio-political circumstances NGOs can come together to work towards addressing common issues. Today it is only the third sector can effectively monitor the government and have a positive influence on the uprooting of corrupt practices during electoral processes and pushing electoral reforms forward. Cooperation of the third sector along with progressive political strengths that are oriented towards the realization of democratic transformation in the nearest possible future together can ensure realistic changes in the political structure of society, popularize the idea of democratic development, introduce radical economic and political reforms that favor the integration into the European partnership and world system of security, particularly NATO.
In the formation of all effective coalitions, it is of utmost importance to create an atmosphere of tolerance between the organizations involved and having all members focused on the upholding of principles of equality while at the same time forming a flexible organizational structure. The main and absolute conclusion of the activities of the Freedom of Choice Coalition is that in similar sociopolitical circumstances NGOs are one of the sole elements that contribute to the consolidation of Ukrainian society in the realization of realistic reforms. It is only the third sector that can realize monitoring of the Government and have an influence on the uprooting of corruption in the electoral process and pushing reforms forward. Cooperation of the social sector along with progressive political strengths that are oriented towards the realization of democratic transformation in the nearest possible future can ensure realistic changes in the political structure of society, popularize the idea of democratic development, introduce radical economic and political reforms that favor the integration of Ukraine into a European partnership and world system of security.
An important factor in the creation of similar coalitions is the constructive process of finding agreement on similar interests and the systematic planning of activities. The cooperation of any given number of organizations requires preliminary agreements and a procedure for making decisions. It is necessary to remove any possible signs of being partisan and clearly publicizing one’s declared principles. Any public accusation of activities of partisanship must be publicly argued and dispelled. Active public activity does not necessarily involve the desire to come to power.
An additionally important conclusion is that NGOs have still not familiarized themselves with the most effective technologies of publicizing their activities, creating ties with society, donors and government institutions. We hope that the experience gained by member organizations of the Freedom of Choice Coalition can be a starting point for the further popularization of their ideas within society. A feeling of support and cooperation should exist between all member organizations of any such coalition.
An important, if not one of the most important activities is conducting monitoring of activities, especially during the final stages. In doing so you can demonstrate the level to which you accomplished your goals and well as the obstacles that were faced, come up with conclusions, as well as take corrective steps to do a better job next time around. Monitoring includes the gathering or logging of media coverage, press clippings, video, sound bites as well as copies of materials produced by member organizations. In addition to monitoring the media one should actively gather feedback from member organizations that includes both criticism positive and negative along with summaries of activities and analysis of materials. Finally a conference were information can be exchanged and activities can be summarized should be held.
On the eve of elections many representatives of political parties and of the mass media asked about the perspectives of the further activities of the Coalition, seeing in it a high level of potential to form a united social position. At that time the view of the leadership of the Coalition was that it had to review the results of the activities of the Coalition in order to make decisions for the future.
In a conference held after the second round of elections that include participation of donor organizations and a greater part of the 268 member organizations of the Freedom of Choice Coalition, it was summarized that the Coalition had a positive influence on the electoral process and made some positive steps towards building a civic society. In general, in the opinion of the participants, the Freedom of Choice Coalition must continue its activities, in widening its spheres of work aimed at developing citizen control over the government and finding solutions to the main problems in society: corruption, freedom of speech, integrating into world and Euro-Atlantic structures, and the development of the infrastructure of the third sector. On the cusp of the new millennium 85 members of the Freedom of Choice Coalition have agreed in principle, they will start working on the development of an educational anti-corruption program. To realize this work, the Coalition is maintaining its structure and is turning to other NGOs and other structures for cooperation. With an interest in continued cooperation amongst member organizations, the Secretariat formulated a new Declaration of the Freedom of Choice Coalition and distributed it to its membership (See Appendix 4).
On the eve of Parliamentary elections in 2002, the Coalition of NGOs will surely grow into a national movement, that under the flag of pluralism, democracy, and the values individuals rights and freedoms will stimulate the institutions of government to make good their pre-election promises.
Kyiv, March 24, 2000
Coordinator – Freedom of Choice Coalition
Head of the Communications Development Center
Bill (Vasyl) Pawlowsky
Director of International Relations
Secretariat – Freedom of Choice Coalition
DECLARATION of the Freedom of Choice Coalition
March 16, 1999
We, representatives of Ukrainian non-governmental organizations, aware of our responsibility for the future of the country, conscious that the 1999 elections will be decisive for the fate of our nation, considering that these presidential elections will define the future economic development of Ukraine and the place of Ukraine in the international community, eager to emphasize the importance of citizens freely expressing their will, hereby announce the creation of the Freedom of Choice Ukrainian NGOs Coalition.
We are uniting our efforts to conduct a national campaign that will ensure free and fair elections; maximize compliance with democratic principles, basic human rights and freedoms; and help all citizens understand the importance of personal choice for their own future and the future of their children.
The tasks of the coalition are:
· Mobilizing citizens to participate in the electoral process;
· Building awareness of the importance of free expression;
· Popularizing the ideals of civil society, democracy and economic reforms;
· Ensuring the respecting of human rights and liberties, and the legality and transparency of the electoral process;
· Educating Ukrainian citizens on how to participate in the elections;
· Monitoring the access of various political forces and candidate to the mass media and unbiased coverage of the election by mass media;
· Encouraging youth to participate in the elections; and
· Monitoring the electoral process.
Taking into consideration the above-mentioned principles, and directing all our efforts towards achieving our mutual objectives, we address a request for support to all NGOs, non-profit organizations, local government agencies, international organizations, and businesses.
We do not intend to support or work for any specific candidate. We will remain non-partisan and politically not engaged, we will not promote particular candidates.
We desire to contribute to making Ukraine a democratic, prosperous, European country. We wish to be proud of our country.
Press Release Monday, March 22, 1999
UNIAN Khreshchatyk 4
Free Choice Coalition of Ukrainian NGOs
Participating in the press conference are members of the Coalition’s Coordinating Council:
Vladyslav Kaskiv - Director of the Center for Developing Communication;
Ilko Kucheriv - Director of Democratic Initiatives;
Serhiy Naboka - President of the Ukrainian Media Club;
Oleh Pavlyshyn - President of the Dialogue Center;
Ihor Popov - President of the Committee of Voters of Ukraine;
Serhiy Taran - Vice president of the Institute of Mass Information;
Mykola Tomenko - Director of the Institute of Politics.
The Free Choice Coalition of NGOs was created in preparation for the October 1999 presidential election. The objective of the newly created coalition is to support the democratic and transparent nature of the electoral process.
The Coalition emphasizes the extraordinary significance of the place in the international community.1999 elections whose results will delineate the future economic development of Ukraine and Ukraine’s. We aim to conduct a national campaign which will ensure free and fair elections; help all citizens understand the importance of personal choice for their own future and the future of their children.
Among the fundamental tasks of the coalition are: educating Ukrainian citizens on new electoral legislation; unbiased monitoring of the coverage of the election by mass media; mobilizing citizens to participate in the elections; and monitoring and preparing information on the elections and their outcome.
With our experience working during previous elections, the members of the coalition are convinced that voter mobilization is possible only through effective and coordinated activity of Ukrainian NGOs. Taking into consideration non-united efforts during previous elections (Press Center Election ’94, Election ’98, Free Choice National Program, etc.), the initiators of the Coalition aim to coordinate one mutual effort during the current presidential election and implement a joint program of actions.
The Coalition will be non-partisan. It will not be biased towards or will not support any particular candidate. The coalition will not be publicly engaged with any party—no organization will support any candidates.
Today, the declaration on establishing the Coalition was signed by 63 NGOs representing 14 oblasts.
The Coalition is an open institution and asks other NGOs, donors, and businesses to join their program of activities, and to support the democratic presidential elections in Ukraine.
The Electoral Forum of Donors
Organizations that were part of the Electoral Forum of Donors included the following:
British “Know How” Fund
Canadian Ukrainian project “Education for Democracy”
Canadian-Ukrainian Project for Legal Cooperation
Charles Stewart Mott Foundation
Conrad Adeneauer Foundation
Delegation of the European Commission
Embassy of Canada
Embassy of the United States of America
European Institute of Mass Media
Fredrich Ebert Foundation
Hans Ziedel Foundation
International Foundation for Electoral Systems
International Renaissance Foundation (Soros Foundation)
National Democratic Institute
Project for the Development of Parliamentarianism
The Royal Embassy of the Netherlands in Ukraine
United States Agency for International Development
United States Information Agency
United Nations Development Program
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe
Freedom of Choice Coalition of NGOs
We the representatives of Non-governmental organizations of Ukraine, that have signed this Declaration, Are aware that,
The reforms of the basis of society are possible due to condition of solving problems of political and civil aspects of social life, Considering that,
The civic sector must defend social interests, Consciously do not place
Before ourselves political tasks that are the prerogative of political parties.
We ascertain the fact, that for the effective work of the Freedom of Choice Coalition, that united non-governmental organizations in Ukraine in order to solidify the basis for democratic development and to ensure honest and fair procedures during Presidential Elections in Ukraine in 1999, and on the Basis of our experience and perspectives of cooperation within the form of a coalition, We are convinced in our intent of continuing the activities of the Freedom of Choice Coalition, and thus we are putting forth the following intention of our organizations of uniting to strengthen the framework of the Freedom of Choice Coalition, that is operating on a qualitative new basis.
The aims and activities of the Coalition are:
To create the conditions for the uniting and cooperating of non-governmental organizations in Ukraine for democratic development, supporting of reforms and building of an open civic society.
The work of the Coalition is to:
· Create an environment for maximal participation of society in the solving of social problems,
· General and uncensored informing of society on the developments in socio-political and economic processes,
· Ensure the honesty and fairness, openness and transparency of actions of social self-disclosure.
· No organization has the right to use the name or logotype of the Coalition in activities that foresees political engagement.
We are in agreement that the activities of the Coalition will be based on the following principles:
· Activities of the Coalition will be open and transparent,
· The Coalition has no governing body,
· All member organizations of the Coalition have the same rights,
· No subject of the Coalition is subordinate to another,
· Activities of the Coalition are based on the pluralism of thoughts,
· The Coalition is always open to new participants joining,
· At the time of joining the Coalition non-governmental organizations are not to undertake any additional obligations,
· Any organization can freely become members of the Coalition,
· Every organization-participant of the Coalition can present any initiative that does not contravene these announced principles of this Declaration,
· Every organization-participant of the Coalition has the right to present their displeasure with any initiatives of the Coalition,
· No organization is required to take part in any initiatives or programs of the Coalition,
· Membership in the Coalition does not restrict an organization in realizing its political position beyond the framework of the Coalition,
· No organization-participant of the Coalition can make announcements that place any responsibilities on other members of the Coalition,
· The Coalition can separate itself from activities and proclamations of participants of the Coalition.
In order to ensure the mechanism for cooperation between members of the Coalition we are forming The Coordinative Council of the Coalition.
With the aim of realizing organizational, technical and informational exchange in the activities of the Coalition we are forming an executive body of the Coalition – The Secretariat of the Coalition.
The principles of the formation and the activities of the Coalition, its Coordinative Council and Secretariat are recognized in the document on the activities of the Coalition that is an essential part of this Declaration.
Comments on the Coalition
Dr. Bohdan HAVRYLYSHYN,
President of Renaissance Foundation (Geneva),
President of the Ternopil Academy of National Agriculture,
Chairman of the Board of Trustees International Center for Policy Studies (Kyiv),
Chairman of the Board of Trustees Council of the International Management Institute (Kyiv)
The method of thought that is propagated by the Coalition, in my opinion is very good for the development of democracy in Ukraine. Thus these types of organizations can expose the activities of government, in other words those selected by the people, in the vain that the people desire.
Chief Advisor to the President
The appearance of NGOs that are focused on the organization of citizens is incredibly important for Ukraine. Without these positive elements, democracy in Ukraine will simply not grow.
Member of Parliament
The positive factor of growth in numbers, and the influence of non-governmental organizations and their union in the last while, in my opinion, shows the beginning of the formation in Ukraine of civic thought. And if to this time the influence of such organizations has not been heard, then now we can say that it is growing, and this growth is following the path of European traditions. They must participate in the life of the country, but mainly in the next parliamentary elections.
Member of Parliament, Vice Head on Economic Policy
The process of unions within society, that took place during elections, show the growth of democratization, and that when citizens want to have an influence on the electoral process, then there voice is heard. This is evidence that were are moving onto a new rung in the development of society, and we would very much like to see these processes continue.