Special edition digest! Local self-governance will be restricted during wartime

30 March 2022
Special edition digest! Local self-governance will be restricted during wartime
Home > Monitoring > Special edition digest! Local self-governance will be restricted during wartime

Last week Ukrainian MPs gathered to consider draft bills addressing wartime issues. One of the core bills adopted by the Parliament introduces a new balance in the workings and interactions of military administrations and local governments while martial law is in effect. However, the declared optimization of the workings of key government bodies also brings many problems that can hinder the work of the state and local self-governance.

On maintaining state governance under martial law

Draft bill # 7153 of March 13, 2022

Who is affected: government bodies, local governments, military command, military administration, Ukrainian citizens, the President, and the Cabinet.

Status: awaits to be signed by the President.

Summary of the draft bill: proposes new regulations that are to be in effect under martial law:

  • the Cabinet will be allowed to change the location of ministries and other central executive bodies

  • heads of communities outside the area of active military hostilities and not under the authority of local military administrations will have to inform their heads of oblast military administrations about making the following decisions:

    • changing the number of members of the executive committee or changing its composition

    • introducing a temporary organizational structure of a local council’s executive apparatus, changing the number of employees of its apparatus or its executive bodies

    • making changes to the community budget

  • without informing the heads of their oblast military administrations, community heads can:

    • donate funds from local budgets to the Armed Forces of Ukraine

    • manage community’s assets, create or reorganize public utility companies

    • introduce or change regulations on the municipal improvement of a community, deal with natural disasters, pandemics, or epizootics

  • if a community head violates the laws or the Constitution, the head of an oblast military administration submits a proposal to the president to create a military administration in this community

  • the draft bill prohibits to terminate the authority of local governments. For example, the Verkhovna Rada will not be able to launch snap elections or conduct elections to local councils while martial law is in effect

  • the draft bill provisions that if a military administration is created in a locality, the authority of a local government of this locality has to be restored after 30 days since martial law is lifted

  • while martial law is in effect and within 30 days after it ends the authority of raion and oblast councils are terminated. Their powers are exercised by military administrations

  • the draft bill allows the Cabinet to adopt legislation in accordance with the following procedure:

    • the Cabinet adopts legislation on national security, defense, foreign policy, infrastructure, economy, industry, finance, budget, digital transformation, environmental protection, taxation, etc.

    • the Government submits the draft bill it has adopted to the Verkhovna Rada for consideration (within 2 days)

    • if the Verkhovna Rada disapproves the bill, Cabinet’s decision becomes null and void

    • if the Verkhovna Rada does not adopt or reject the draft bill within a month, Cabinet’s decision becomes null and void.

What is right:

  • protects the work of ministries in case the capital is occupied. This will help to maintain the continuity of the executive branch’s work irrespective of the military situation

  • enhances the work of community heads, in particular, by allowing them to make a decision to help the Armed Forces.

What is wrong:

  • the Constitution of Ukraine guarantees the existence of local self-governance. A special legal regime introduced by martial law cannot destroy the constitutional order — including local self-governance. Termination of powers of each local government body requires proper justification and cannot result from the whim of the establishment

  • the draft bill makes local governments dependent on military administrations and deprives them of the power to make independent decisions. Heads of military administrations will have the power to overthrow local governments at their discretion even in the territories not engaged in fighting off the enemy

  • a proposal to grant the Cabinet the authority to pass laws violates the Constitution: the sole body of legislative power in Ukraine is the Verkhovna Rada. Also, the Constitution defines a list of issues that can be regulated exclusively by laws. In particular, foreign policy, fundamentals of national security, taxation system, taxes and fees, etc. Any legislation passed on the authority of the Cabinet on these issues will be challenged in court

  • the draft bill contains many inaccuracies and contradictions that will complicate its enforcement. The most prominent contradiction is regulations on local self-governance: on the one hand, the draft bill prohibits termination of the authority of local governments, on the other hand, it allows termination of their authority until the next election and for 30 days after martial law is lifted.