Last week, Washington hosted the largest international anti-corruption event of the last two years — the International Anti-Corruption Conference (IACC 2022). And, of course, Transparency International Ukraine experts also took part in these events.

Ukraine was one of the leading topics of this year’s conference. We discussed the fight against corruption, the confiscation of Russian and Belarusian assets, the decisions of the European Court to close the register of beneficial owners, and raised a number of important anti-corruption topics. But the core issue for both us and our partners was transparency and accountability in the future rebuilding of Ukraine. The TI Ukraine team initiated this discussion, so I will share some conclusions.

Above all, it should be understood that our reconstruction is not something that is far away, and at the same time it will last for a long time and will require significant effort. Ukraine’s post-war reconstruction is often compared and even called the “Marshall Plan” for Ukraine. The comparison is clear because after World War II there haven’t been any such large-scale reconstruction projects. However, the modern world in the 20s of the 21st century is very different from the post-war Europe of the middle of the last century. The case of Ukraine is also drastically different — both in terms of the scale of reconstruction and the amount of financial assistance required, and, of course, in the approaches according to which the reconstruction will take place.

At the same time, when we talk about the reconstruction of Ukraine, we are talking about the processes and needs that are to be provided now. This means that solutions are also needed now.

That is why, during the discussion on reconstruction, we stressed that the process of reconstruction of Ukraine should be divided into two different flows. The first flow is the urgent recovery needs. Today, Russia is destroying not only energy, but also other sectors of the Ukrainian economy, simultaneously trying to destroy the very opportunity for our citizens to live fully. And, accordingly, our country needs to respond to such attempts instantly.

The second, more strategic level, is the restoration of Ukraine after the victory in the war against Russia.

It should be understood that the full restoration of Ukraine after the war, given the scale of destruction and the desire to rebuild it better, will take many years or at least one generation. This means that our country needs a comprehensive vision of what the reconstruction process may look like, who will make the decisions, what institutions and policies need to be improved for this process to be as effective as possible.

Five months ago, during the Lugano Conference, together with partners, we created and presented the RISE Ukraine Coalition and our vision of the values on which the future Recovery Plan should be based. But since then, the situation has changed somewhat — Russian attacks have become more brutal, damage to critical infrastructure has been palpable for all citizens of our country in one way or another. So now, in addition to strategic planning for the decades ahead, it is also important to develop immediate solutions to meet the current needs.

Recently, Transparency International Ukraine has presented its vision of the reconstruction process. And one part of it is the reforms that need to be implemented immediately to ensure a transparent and accountable long-term recovery process.

We are convinced that to ensure effective reconstruction and recovery, the plan needs to be split into stages. 

  1. The first one — strategy. We need to specify what is needed for the reconstruction, why it is needed, and how it will improve the lives of communities.
  2. The second one — prioritization. It is essential to understand in detail how the reconstruction will be implemented. At this stage, it is necessary to decide whether our country needs to rebuild the “Soviet” industries that existed in Ukraine before the war, or whether it is necessary to change the approach and turn the economy of Ukraine into something new.
  3. The third one — orientation towards competitive tender procedures. It is crucial to ensure the transparent use of funds for which the reconstruction will take place. Long before the full-scale Russian invasion, TI Ukraine was engaged in the development of Prozorro, an electronic public procurement system considered the most effective in the world. And the use of this system should become mandatory during reconstruction.
  4. The fourth stage is assessment. We need to be able to spot mistakes and learn from them to prevent them in the future.

To coordinate numerous reconstruction projects, standardization and definition of the selection procedure, assistance in project preparation, and coordination of donors’ efforts, it is necessary to consider the possibility of creating a separate institution in Kyiv that could perform the above functions and tasks.

Of course, to ensure a transparent rebuilding, our country will need appropriate IT solutions. And together with the government, we are already working on such a solution — the Rebuild Ukraine Digital Management system. The main goal is to simplify the management of large-scale projects and allow everyone to see everything that is happening within the reconstruction of the country.

However, it should not be forgotten that such services are only tools that will help maintain transparency and accountability. And strong and independent anti-corruption institutions, law enforcement, and judicial bodies should back them.

During the discussion, we all agreed that the reconstruction of Ukraine should be Ukraine’s prerogative and conducted by Ukraine. And here, separate responsibility already rests with civil society, which will control the entire process.