EUCCI and Campaign
EUCCI's goal is to promote responsible and well-informed civic participation in public life through a variety of human rights and educational programs. Our projects have three main directions: human rights defense and civic education, supporting and developing civil society organizations, and advancing policy and legislative reforms to enhance the protection and fulfillment of human rights.
EUCCI's is currently active in the area of protecting the rightful and transparent public use of urban land, including public access to comprehensive city plans. EUCCI provides free legal, methodological and educational support for citizens, activists and community-based organizations. EUCCI converts knowledge and experience from work at the local level and creates proposals for improved legislation and lobbies for its approval into legislative acts.
Why this is Important
Every citizen deserves to know what the plans are for the future development of the community in which they live. When these plans are hidden – as they often are in Ukraine – authorities can make decisions that do not reflect the input, desires, and wants of residents. By providing public access to city plans, we hope to create change in Ukraine that helps guarantee safe and prosperous communities.
Despite the considerable social importance of access to general plans, these documents in most Ukrainian cities are not available. They are not published on the websites of local councils; they are not available at the request of citizens nor to local councilors.
In the course of EUCCI's monitoring research, they determined that in most cities they plans are classified as "For Official Use Only" or "Secret." This means they are proprietary and classified information.
Restricting access to the general plans contradicts a number of current laws.
Results of monitoring study conducted during 2010-13 reveal that citizens in very few communities have access to the comprehensive plan for their city. EUCCI sent requests to city councils in all 260 cities of Ukraine. Responses indicated refusals for a variety of reasons: “the comprehensive city plan is underway”, and “there is no technical equipment for copying maps.” The major portion of such refusals are unlawful because they claimed that local governments did not have equipment or funding to make copies of their comprehensive plans. I n addition, some governments claimed that since the maps were not of a standard size, it was not easy to make copies and distribute them among the interested members of their communities.
None of the monitored areas offered our staff a full copy of the comprehensive plan and/or the area map,. Only five cities – Kalush, Morshyn, Khmilnyk, Shcholkine, and Yuzhnoukrains'k – mailed us copies of the major layouts from their comprehensive plans. An overwhelming majority refused to show us their comprehensive plans. In a few of those cases we were issued an official refusal, however, in most cases, authorities denied us access with no explanation.
In addition, a public examination was conducted during 2011 – 2012 of the procedures used by the Ministry of Regional Development for creating the list of information that should be classified as "For Official Use Only." As a result of this study, recommendations were made to state governmental organizations. As expected, the Ministry of Regional Development reacted quite critically and until now has been slow to implement any of the recommendations. A separate reaction from the Cabinet -- the First Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine – called for several ministries "to consult with the public on procedures for improving public access to master plans" and obliged the Ministry of Regional Development to complete the public examination. As a result, scientists of the Ministry of Defense are exploring the possibility of withdrawing the requirement to use the stamp "For Official Use Only" on comprehensive city plans. In addition, another promising development is that this past summer, the military has recommended that less-detailed maps can be made available to the public.
In recent years, two types of activists have emerged who are interested in defending citizens' rights in matters of spatial planning: non-formalized groups of citizens and professional NGOs. Currently, the number of activists who are using the internet and social networking sites such as Facebook and Vkontakte has been growing. Alliances are being created, and some pressure is being exerted on local officials through their efforts.
During 2012-13 EUCCI has conducted work, supported by a grant from the U.S. Embassy Ukraine, that helps develop the professional skills of Ukrainian bloggers who represent public interests. Through this work a culture of active and participatory citizenship has been fostered. Higher quality published materials have been created about how to protect and defend the public interest in matters related to urban land use planning. And, there has been an increase in public discussions in the Ukrainian blogosphere.