23 May 2018, Geneva/Kyiv – The United Nations Independent Expert on debt and human rights recognised that Ukraine has progressed in its fight against illicit financial flows but warned that economic reforms without clear safeguards for human rights can further entrench inequality and poverty.

“All human rights, be it housing, health or access to justice are closely linked to public finances. Human rights cannot be effectively realised without adequate budget allocated for the common good, and without addressing corruption,” Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky said at the end of his 10-day visit to the country.

“A healthy economy must ensure the well-being for all, including the most vulnerable. The economic reforms should not go forward in spite of them.”

The Independent Expert addressed a number of issues related to economic reforms, illicit financial flows and their impact on human rights during his meetings with Government officials, researchers, investigative journalists, civil society activists and members of the international community in Kyiv.

“Corruption is a serious human rights concern everywhere precisely because it drains a sizeable part of the public budget away from its social function. State capture by a small elite matters because it erodes the trust in institutions, hampers accountability and weakens democracy,” he said.

Bohoslavsky expressed his support for the establishment of an independent High Anti-Corruption Court that will address high-profile corruption cases, in accordance with the recommendations of the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe.

At the same time, he underlined that fighting corruption requires a holistic approach which covers not only investigations and sanctions but also a proper regulation to minimise the economic incentives to become corrupt.

With regard to the package of reforms that were set as requirements by international lenders, in particular the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Independent Expert noted that “most of my interlocutors seem to share the perspective that moving from over-regulation to deregulation would undoubtedly foster economic growth and prevent corruption. However, I disagree with this view”.

“Comparative experiences show that private actors require effective regulation also, in particular to ensure human rights compliance,” he said. “This is only achievable with robust legislation and independent public institutions that prevent market abuses, ensure the rule of law and tackle economic and social inequality in order to promote inclusive sustainable growth.”

The Independent Expert expressed concern at the growing inequalities faced by the poor and unemployed, and by the stark wage gap between men and women. He also found worrying the situation with payment of pensions to people affected by the armed conflict. He recommends that the Government of Ukraine eliminates the obstacles that prevent Ukrainian citizens from having equal access to pensions regardless of their place of residence or registration as internally displaced persons (IDPs).

The Independent Expert will submit a comprehensive report on his visit to Ukraine to the UN Human Rights Council in March 2019.

His complete end-of-visit statement in English is available at: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=23118&LangID=E

ENDS

Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky (Argentina) was appointed as Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt and human rights by the United Nations Human Rights Council on 8 May 2014. He has previously worked as a Sovereign Debt Expert for the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) where he coordinated an Expert Group on Responsible Sovereign Lending and Borrowing. He is independent of any government or organization and serves in his individual capacity.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

Follow the Independent Expert’s work on twitter at: @IEfinanceHRs

For more information and media requests, please contact:

In Kyiv (during the visit):

Juana Sotomayor, Human Rights officer, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights/SPB (+41 79 444 4355 / jsotomayor@ohchr.org) or write to ieforeigndebt@ohchr.org

Iryna Yakovlieva, Human Rights Officer/Communications focal point, the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine (+38050 386 80 69; iyakovlieva@ohchr.org)

In Geneva (before and after the visit):

Juana Sotomayor (+41 22 917 9445 / jsotomayor@ohchr.org) or write to: ieforeigndebt@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts please contact

Jeremy Laurence, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+41 22 917 9383 / jlaurence@ohchr.org)

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