With Ukraine becoming independent, the processes of development civil society was activated. The base for it became the formation of different forms of ownership, organizational and institutional support of subjects of civil society, and cgivil society organizations.
However, according to international estimates, domestic civil society is still lagging behind its European counterparts, and is even inferior to the post-Soviet countries. Among the factors influencing the formation of civil society are legislative environment in Ukraine, the activity of citizens and the development of public organizations, their ability to join forces and to involve citizens in their activities, to create communities around common values and interests.
How has development of civil society in Ukraine come to be?
In fact, the stages of formation of civil society are closely connected with the periods of state formation in Ukraine. Thus, modern historians distinguish four periods:
- the first is considered to be the period of Kievan Rus, when people realized the need for community and public organizations to protect their interests and control the activities of the government;
- the second refers to the XVI-XVII centuries. It is characterized by the growth of national self-awareness and the formation of a political nation;
- the third period covers XIX and first decades of the XX century. The key events in it are the years 1917-1919, when Ukraine was first declared an independent state. These events clearly emphasized the potential and state-building aspirations of the Ukrainian civil society; and,
- the fourth period of formation and development of civil society continues to this day. In independent Ukraine, it is accompanied by the democratization of various spheres of public life and an increase of public participation in decision-making processes at the local, regional and national levels.
Each of the above-mentioned periods of development of civil society had a direct impact on the further path of development and formation of civil societies in Ukraine. One of the features of Ukrainian civil society can be its instability or inconsistency, but not in the negative sense of these words. In most cases, it manifests itself in the significant intensification of civil society organizations in moments of social tension, for example, during the Revolution of Dignity, or an attack on activists, or blatant injustice in the implementation of certain reforms. At such peak moments, civil society organizations attract the biggest possible amount of support from the population. However, we should not forget also about the routine work for which the participation of Ukrainians is just as important.
In a democratic state, innovative ideas and initiatives of citizens during governmental decision-making are vital. Sociologists attribute the low level of citizen activeness to the mentality of the Ukrainian nation and the specifics of the formation of civil society in Ukraine. One of the first communities in Ukraine was a village, where collective interests would overrule the interests of the individual, which in itself suppressed the awareness of one’s own individuality.
The concepts of formation of civil society in Ukraine are highlighted in the resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine No. 657 of August 14, 2019 and in the action plan specified in it. Namely:
- to create favorable conditions for the formation and development of civil society institutions;
- to promote the participation of the community in solving regional issues, to involve citizens in governmental decision-making; and
- to stimulate the participation of civil society organizations in the socio-economic life of the state.
Cooperation of CSOs and the State is One the Key Factors in Establishing Democracy
Today civil society is a rational model for the coexistence of the citizens, CSOs and state representatives, and is formed based on freedom and democracy with minimal intervention from the state. The development of civic awareness gives people an ability to better understand and exercise their rights, while taking their responsibilities seriously.
The role of citizens in the formation of civil society is huge: they, like no other, are capable of forming responsible behavior, transparency and correct decision-making from the government with the support of civil society organizations.