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nres19023 kiev group pictureKYIV, Ukraine (Dec. 18, 2018) – The George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, in cooperation with the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, conducted a Senior Leaders’ Seminar titled “Parliamentary Oversight of the Security Sector” here Dec. 13 and 14. (DOD photo by German Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Mark Winkler)

By U.S. Navy Cmdr. Eric Ager
George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies

KYIV, Ukraine (Dec. 18, 2018) – The George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, in cooperation with the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, conducted a Senior Leaders’ Seminar titled “Parliamentary Oversight of the Security Sector” here Dec. 13 and 14. 

The Verkhovna Rada or Parliament of Ukraine hosted the event in the Ukrainian Parliament Building.

During the seminar, seven experts from the U.S. and Germany shared their experiences on civilian oversight of the security sector with Ukrainian parliamentarians, parliamentary staffers, and representatives from the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Foreign Intelligence Service, Security Service of Ukraine, the National Anti-corruption Bureau, the State Bureau of Investigations, the State Border Guard Service, and the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine.

The event kicked off with opening remarks from Taras Pastukh, member of the Ukrainian Parliament and its Committee for National Security and Defense, Pam Tremont, the deputy chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, Frederik Wesslau, the deputy head of the European Union Advisory Mission to Ukraine, Sharon Irwin, the deputy head of the NATO Representation of Ukraine, Iryna Friz, the Minister of Veteran’s Affairs in Ukraine, and Dr. Valbona Zeneli, Marshall Center’s chair of the Strategic Initiatives Department.

On the first day of the seminar, Liam McKenna, general counsel for the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in the U.S. House of Representatives, Dr. Sebastian Von Muenchow, professor of security studies and international law at the Marshall Center, Andy Polesovsky, chief investigator and counsel for the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations in the U.S Senate, and Dr. Heide Wedemeyer, advisor to the Minister of Justice in the Federal State of Hamburg in Germany, outlined the U.S. and German security sector architecture and explained the institutions and methods for conducting oversight in both countries. 

Additionally, Rachael Tucker, counselor to the U.S. Attorney General discussed the importance of civilian oversight from the perspective of the executive branch.

On the second day of the seminar, Steven Silverstein, senior defense advisor at the U.S. Office of Defense Cooperation in Kyiv, Sam Dewey, the former Senior Counsel for Oversight and Investigations for the House Financial Services Committee, and Polesovsky conducted an in-depth analysis of the security sector planning and budgeting process and discussed the importance of financial oversight of the security sector.

In his closing remarks on the final day of the seminar, Ukrainian Parliamentarian Pastukh said that “the ideas discussed here will be implemented in the working groups in the Rada that are working on draft legislation” and that “though the results of the work in Ukraine grow slowly, the work is important and will lead to success.” 

He highly praised the “colossal” support from the Marshall Center in recent years as crucial for every single step in the reform process for Ukraine.  In remarks summing up the seminar, Keith Bean, first secretary in the Political Section of the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine said that the seminar was “a useful exchange of experience and opinions” and that “the Marshall Center could be useful in helping the staff development of future oversight committees in the Rada.”

Outlining the Marshall Center support to Ukraine Zeneli said that the Marshall Center has been highly engaged in supporting Ukraine in building capacity for parliamentarians and government officials in areas such as civilian and parliamentary oversight of the defense and security sector, fostering civil-military relations, and advancing good governance reforms.