Avatar photo

Leigh Turner

Ambassador to Austria and UK Permanent Representative to the United Nations and other International Organisations in Vienna

Part of FCDO Human Rights UK in Ukraine

18th February 2010

Ukrainian militia, Euro 2012 and human rights: are they compatible?

A guest blog by Svitlana Yavorska, Head of Projects Section, British Embassy Kyiv

Breaking racial and ethnic stereotyping is vital in every country.  So it was good to attend a press conference this week to mark the completion of a project funded by the Embassy to help Ukraine’s police forces, or militia, reach European best standards and become more effective and diverse in providing their services to the public.

The project was conceived a year ago when the Embassy met representatives of Ukraine’s Ministry of Interior. They told us that in 2008 the Ministry had established a Human Rights Monitoring Department and that they were keen to get advice on how to set up and run this unit in line with best international practice.  They also said they wanted to improve their internal regulations to meet Ukraine’s obligations on international human rights, equality and diversity.

This type of work is particularly vital as Ukraine looks forward to the Euro 2012 football competition, when the country is expecting more than 650,000 visitors.  The Ministry therefore asked how Britain and Ukraine could work together to tackle racism and xenophobia in everyday Ukrainian militia operations.  Key elements, drawing on British experience of diversity and multiculturalism, include the police demonstrating tolerance when patrolling the streets, how and whether random checks are performed, and helping foreign tourists feel comfortable.  Project partners were the International Organisation for Migration, the British Council and the Kharkiv Institute of Social Research. The Ukrainian Ministry of the Interior proved an enthusiastic partner, open to change and keen to support reforms.  At the press conference the project implementers reported a series of concrete results, including a training module for militia officers and recommendations to the Ministry on setting service standards according to best international practice.

After the press conference we discussed possible ways to continue cooperation between Ukraine and the UK to make the world a safer and more diverse place to live. As Jonathan Bateson, 2nd Secretary of the Embassy, noted at the press-conference, “The UK has been, and remains, a strong political supporter of Ukraine’s attempts to draw closer to the EU.  We believe that these aspirations are most directly achieved through practical steps towards reforming and improving public services.  We look forward to more opportunities for practical cooperation between our countries”. Yuri Belousov from the Ministry of Interior stressed that Ukraine needed international expertise to move steadily forward.

We’ve blogged before on this site about diversity and tolerance in Ukraine – indeed, some of the “Ukraine says no to racism” posters whose disappearance was lamented in that blog have recently reappeared on the streets of Kyiv.  I hope this project will help the Ukrainian militia continue their efforts to adopt diversity best practice as Euro 2012 approaches.

1 comment on “Ukrainian militia, Euro 2012 and human rights: are they compatible?

  1. I wish to get across my gratitude for your kindness supporting individuals who require assistance with the content. Your personal dedication to passing the message along ended up being remarkably adegutaavons and has surely enabled folks just like me to attain their dreams. Your valuable instruction signifies a lot a person like me and far more to my mates. Regards; from each one of us.

Comments are closed.

About Leigh Turner

I hope you find this blog interesting and, where appropriate, entertaining. My role in Vienna covers the relationship between Austria and the UK as well as the diverse work of…

I hope you find this blog interesting and, where appropriate, entertaining. My role in Vienna covers the relationship between Austria and the UK as well as the diverse work of the UN and other organisations; stories here will reflect that.

About me: I arrived in Vienna in August 2016 for my second posting in this wonderful city, having first served here in the mid-1980s. My previous job was as HM Consul-General and Director-General for Trade and Investment for Turkey, Central Asia and South Caucasus based in Istanbul.

Further back: I grew up in Nigeria, Exeter, Lesotho, Swaziland and Manchester before attending Cambridge University 1976-79. I worked in several government departments before joining the Foreign Office in 1983.

Keen to go to Africa and South America, I’ve had postings in Vienna (twice), Moscow, Bonn, Berlin, Kyiv and Istanbul, plus jobs in London ranging from the EU Budget to the British Overseas Territories.

2002-6 I was lucky enough to spend four years in Berlin running the house, looking after the children (born 1992 and 1994) and doing some writing and journalism.

To return to Vienna as ambassador is a privilege and a pleasure. I hope this blog reflects that.