Countering Discrimination in Ukraine in the Context of European Integration

Kresina I. The Problem of Countering Discrimination in Ukraine in the Context of European Integration

The phenomenon of discrimination is studied, contemporary political and legal mechanisms to counter it, including the international legal framework and Ukrainian legislation, are analyzed. On the basis of international experience recommendations to improve anti-discrimination legislation and refinement of anti-discrimination policy in the context of Ukraine’s European integration are formulated.

Discrimination is a major obstacle to internal social cohesion and harmony, which is essential to the sustainable development of the state. In today’s world the fight against racism, discrimination, xenophobia and other forms of discrimination are the priorities of any civilized democratic state. This is especially essential for post-Soviet states which have identified European integration as their main foreign policy vector. Xenophobia in the form of discriminatory manifestations, remains a serious challenge to democratic multi-ethnic state in the process of forming a political nation from different ethnic groups, languages and cultures.

Without an effective anti-discrimination policy it is impossible to guarantee human rights and protect minorities in Ukraine. This issues are integral parts of the Copenhagen criteria political bloc, implementation of which is a prerequisite for the European integration of the state. The fact that the European integration of Ukraine is impossible without effective antidiscrimination policy is evidenced by the fact that Action plan on visa liberalisation for Ukraine contains clear anti-discrimination requirements. The European Union is very sensitive to human rights, the principles of equal, protecting minority rights and have such demands to all countries applying for EU membership. Ukraine have to ensure and demonstrate effective fight against the phenomena of xenophobia and discrimination for speedy implementation of the European aspirations.

Problems of discrimination on any grounds for a long time did not receive legal answer, because it does not belong to major challenges to national security. Ukrainian authorities did not notice discrimination, referring to the traditional Ukrainian tolerance and ignoring systematic updating of the acute problems by international human rights organizations. This explains the absence of basic research on this subject. Despite the relevance the problem of emergence and spread of discrimination in Ukraine it has not been the subject of systematic study, of political and legal regulation.

Ukraine still lacks a practical system experience to combat discrimination on any grounds effectively as well. Imperfect legal framework prevents effective implementation of anti-discrimination policy, and this is the obstacle to European integration. Formally, the Ukrainian legislation contains norms that prohibit discrimination based on ethnic, racial and religious grounds. However, as monitoring xenophobia testified, ethnically motivated crimes and other manifestations of discrimination remain unpunished. International institutions and observers are concerned that anti-discrimination legislation Ukrainian standards apply only to citizens, that under certain circumstances leaves out of state protection most vulnerable to discrimination groups.

Ukraine anti-discrimination legislation contains significant shortcomings: its provisions are not detailed and are mainly political declarations of intent. By itself, a lack of clearly articulated classification of certain behavior as discrimination leads to irresponsibility: discrimination in Ukraine is practically not punished, which in turn stimulates further phenomenon of discrimination replication. Discrimination is a characteristic of social relations of any country historically, so to overcome it, it is necessary to the design and implement a wide range of not only legal, political, but also social, informational, cultural mechanisms to counteract. Their achievements and effective use is possible only within anti-discrimination policy formed by state and civil society in close cooperation. Just criminal mechanisms use, including sanctions for discrimination, is not typical of a democratic society.

Key words: xenophobia, discrimination, еurointegration.

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