A policy of double standards is the unjust application of different sets of principles for similar situations. That means the situation when the estimation of the same actions of subject changes depending on relations of this subject between the estimating person. Thus, actions of “good guy” that is loyal in relation to estimating person, are given justification, and the same actions of “stranger” are blamed and considered as inadmissible one.
In context of international relations, the policy of double standards usually acquires the shape of accusation of infringement of principles, conventions, obligations, “violation of universal values”, “infringement of human rights”, “deviation from provisions of international law” demonstrating ignoring of absolutely similar own actions or actions of allies, against undesirable political modes .
The modern history is able to provide many eloquent examples of use of practice of double standards in an international policy. First, it concerns ambiguity of approaches of influential western powers and the leading international organizations as to the estimation of election campaigns, and other democratic processes taking place in the states of the former USSR. Therefore, at elections in the countries where the ruling political regime is pro-Western, the international observers recognize that elections meet the European and international standards. On the contrary if a ruling regime or the winner of election has not pro-Western orientation, observers, as a rule, find numerous infringements at election. For example, M. Saakashvili’s victory on elections in Georgia has been named as “triumph of democracy”, while A. Lukashenko’s victory in Belarus was considered a result of ballot rigging. In both cases, extraordinary high (from the western point of view) percent of voices for the candidate was represented as the is worth to note that last years the similar situations, when the leading international organizations and their representatives show the prepossession in such important question as comprehensive and objective estimation of an election situation, as well as of results of all election campaign as a whole, took place in other former-Soviet states, especially in Russia, Moldova, Armenia, Azerbaijan, etc.
In February of the current year, the MFA of Russia has made a statement, that “Office for democratic institutions and human rights (ODIHR) of the OSCE loses trust as applies double standards in estimation of an election situation in Estonia”. This document states that “almost 100 thousand Russian-speaking inhabitants of the country have stood aside of a political life and are deprived of the right to influence the results of election to legislative authority of the Estonian Republic”… According to the Russian MFA “such state of affairs in many respects is caused by the position of experts of ODIHR OSCE and the High commissioner on national minorities OSCE, who prefer to ignore gross infringements of human rights in the Baltic states”. The Russian diplomats believe that “the decision of ODIHR (OSCE) not to direct on parliamentary elections to Estonia full-format monitoring mission testifies to keeping the practice of “double standards”.Experts consider elections to the local authority of Ukraine, which took place last year, as the brightest and characteristic examples of a policy of double standards. We’ll remind that on October, 31st, 2010 in Ukraine elections of deputies to the Supreme Rada of Autonomous republic Crimea as well as of representatives to all bodies of local authorities were held. Elections were held according to the majority-proportional system, i.e. 50 % of deputies were elected under party lists, 50 % – in majority districts. Participation in local elections of parties’ blocks has not been provided. Delegations of some influential international organizations, including the Council of Europe, the European Parliament, the International parliamentary assembly of the CIS countries, monitoring mission CIS-EMO and many other have been accredited as observers to the elections. In total 490 observers of the foreign states and international organizations and 1917 observers of the social & political organizations of Ukraine have been registered.After termination of an election campaign, observers of the foreign missions, presented at elections, have stated a number of the general estimations and comments. Meanwhile experts notice that estimations of the western observers had often ambiguous character, including because of the above considered features and circumstances of use of a policy of double standards towards the states with “young democracy”.
According to them, the context of the international observers’ comments looks also quite dual: though direct gross violations during voting are not recorded, at holding of local election in Ukraine the level of legislative maintenance and transparency has decreased in comparison with the previous February presidential election. At the same time, one fact remains indisputable: any of groups of the international observers presented in the country both the day before and directly in day of voting has not stated too hard and categorical negative estimations of local elections in Ukraine. On the contrary, the majority of observers has noted the organized character of elections and declared absence of any gross violations.
Therefore, at the press conference passed in Kiev right after the termination of election (November 01, 2010) representatives of the international missions of observers declared that the local Ukrainian election was enough organized, thus gross violations, which could affect its definitive result, had not been recorded. In particular, the vice-president of the State Duma of the Russian Federation A. Babakov has noticed that “the General impression – elections were held in an organized way. Violations which could call into question legitimacy of results of elections were not revealed”. The president of the American-Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry H. Teplitskaja (USA) told that “she was pleasantly surprised with the way of elections holding”. The secretary on international contacts of Social-democratic party of Czech Republic K. Prudkova informed that the election committees had showed readiness to cooperate with the international observers. “As a whole we have positive impressions, and it is good, that Ukrainians so actively enjoy the right to democratic elections” – K. Prudkova said. The deputy (the Socialist party) of the People’s Assembly of Bulgaria A. Kutev has agreed with her, also noting high activity of voters and absence of gross violations.
The Mission of international observers CIS-EMO (consisting of 65 representatives from Slovakia, Poland, Kirghizia, Russia, Armenia, and Latvia who worked in 15 big oblasts of Ukraine) also recognized local elections in Ukraine as held ones. According to an official statement of the general director of mission A. Kochetkov, “the violations recorded in course of local elections in Ukraine were not of systematic character and could not render decisive influence on ultimate result of will of Ukrainian citizens”. According to A. Kochetkov, one of the main problems in the day of voting was connected with providing of ballots. At the same time, he noted that the recorded errors could not make decisive influence on definitive result of local elections in Ukraine.
Observers from the European Parliament, in their turn, have noticed that the day of elections in Ukraine was characterized by an atmosphere of calmness. At the same time the deputy of European Parliament P. Koval has paid attention to amendments to the electoral legislation just before the election as it was made during presidential campaign in Ukraine. According to P. Koval the “imperfect” legislation became the reason of separate defects of work of the election commissions, formation of lists, manufacturing of ballots.
The deputy of European Parliament A. Mirsky (Latvia) has noticed that interest to Ukraine does not decrease in Europe. In particular, he mentioned a contentious debate over a draft resolution on Ukraine, proposed by the European people party with sharp criticism of a situation and an election campaign course in Ukraine. However, it has been decided not to pass any resolutions as it would be qualified as an intervention in internal affairs of Ukraine.
At the same time, a number of the international observers, representing basically the leading western countries and the international organizations, have traditionally stated critical estimations and remarks. In particular, some representatives of mission of observers of the Council of Europe have noticed, that elections to bodies of local authority of Ukraine have not met European standards in full. The representative of Committee of regions of EU T. Kallasvee has noticed, that “Day of voting has shown weakness of the new law on election passed only three months prior to election”.
The USA also estimated critically local elections in Ukraine. In the statement, issued by the US State department, it was noted the Ukrainian local elections didn’t match the level of openness and transparency declared by the recent presidential elections at the beginning of 2010. On November 3rd, 2010 the US embassy in Ukraine published the statement which conformed to the official assessment of the US government. Thus, the US diplomats quoted “numerous procedural infringements” in the Election Day that were informed “both by Ukrainian and foreign observers”. Though observers recognized the improvement of the voting list accuracy in comparison with the presidential election, they noted insufficient training of the election commission members. It assisted the certain procedural infringement and caused some organizational problems. The report of the US embassy in Kiev stated that observers and international experts considered the law of Ukraine “On the General Elections” as main source of problems in the Election Day. The law was adopted in July 2010 and on demand of the president V. Janukovich some amendments to the Law were adopted in September (they appreciably facilitated or eliminated some complications, such as, for example, impossibility of participation in elections of new parties, etc.). It is remarkable, that before the local elections, the US ambassador in Ukraine Mr. D. Tefft discussed with the Chairman of the Central Electoral Committee Mr. V. Shapoval some issues on possible assistance of the international institutions in organization of Elections.
On November 7, 2010 the US assistant secretary for European and Eurasian affairs Mr. John F. Gordon gave very predictable political assessment about the Ukrainian local elections in his interview to the “Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty”. It is necessary to note the political analysts consider Mr. J. F. Gordon’s statement as a semi-official action. Thus, they pay some attention that the State Department representative stated at informal briefing but in his interview to the “RFE/RL”. Therefore, there is only personal opinion, but an official person publicly in the mass media, financing from the US state budget, made it. Separately experts also emphasize the fact, that despite of very rigid tone of the statement there are no mentions about any falsification or any distortion of the voting results. Although before the Election Day, the US representatives as well as the Ukrainian opposition gave advance notices about a possibility of falsifications and speculations. Even more the international practice does not provide a possibility to recognize or to non-recognize the results of local elections. In this case, some assessments and some recommendations may have purely legal or political character, but do not extend on the area of the international legitimacy of the central authorities. It might be some signal to the Ukrainian authorities by the experts’ opinion that should affect the domestic policy of official Kiev in order to coordinate it with the US administration. The main goal of Mr. F. Gordon’s demarche consists in the requirement on reforming of the elective legislation. According to him, it is very important to have such the election legislation and Code that will match the international standards.
In response to Mr. F. Gordon’s statement, the deputy foreign minister of Ukraine R. Demchenko granted an interview to the “Interfax-Ukraine” agency (11/08/2010). The representative of Ukrainian foreign department emphasized that according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine’s opinion “the exhaustive assessment of the US government” concerning local elections in Ukraine is contained in the press release of US embassy in Kiev of November 3rd, 2010. R. Demchenko reminded, that the President V. Janukovich set the efficient task to submit the text of the Electoral Code until May 2011, unifying election legislation and allowing international democratic standards at all levels of election process.
The Ukrainian government invited also the US and European experts to join activity of working group to improvement elective legislation, creating under the Presidential Decree. In the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it’s supposed the USA and other foreign partners will assist the success of work which goal is to strengthen principles of competitive democracy in Ukraine.
The situation concerning unconsolidated position and controversial assessments of the representatives of international monitors’ mission of the Congress of local and regional authorities of the Council of Europe needs the separate analysis. 25 observers from the different countries worked on the eve and in the Election Day in many regions of Ukraine.
Directly after completion of Elections, the majority of official observers from the Council of Europe such as: G. Mosler-Tornstrom (Austria, Vice-Chair, the Socialist Group), N. Mermagen (United Kingdom, the Independent and Liberal Democrat Group, Councilor), E. Yeritsyan (Armenia, Group European People’s party) and many others, estimated positively the local election process in Ukraine and stated it respectively in their preliminary reports. For instance, the head of delegation Mrs. Gudrun Mosler-Tornstrom declared at press conference that the voting passed smoothly except some incidents on the separate polls.
However, Mrs. R. Zigmund (Secretariat), preparing the project of final report, ignored the conclusions of many her counterparts. Therefore, such substitution of the facts, in fact, took place. As a result, the leaders of the Council of Europe receive some unreliable information on such important aspect as elections in the state that borders directly on EU and takes active part in many priority programs of this European organization. Never mind the incorrect information could affect the actions of the Council of Europe concerning Ukraine and cause the negative reaction of Ukrainian authorities. There was some precedent to estimate the actions of the Congress by the Ukrainian authorities as the policy of double standards and the intervention in home policy of independent state. As an example the text of subparagraph “a” of paragraph 11, could be rated: “to continue some practice of presentation of elective law on local and regional elections in Ukraine to assessment of the Venetian Commission of Council of Europe before this bill will be adopted by parliament”.
It can be reflected accordingly the bilateral relations. On the information that was published in the mass media, the same situation became possible because the Chair of such influential organization as the Congress of local and regional authorities of the Council of Europe K. Whitmore does not monitor properly over the activity of members of his office. As a result they fulfill their charge superficially and in some cases as in the case with Ukraine they even have some possibility to make the deliberate juggling of the data received by own monitors directly on the place of events.
It is necessary to note that the Ukrainian authorities devoted great attention to critical remarks and constructive suggestions that were said by international monitors at the end of the past election campaign.
The President V. Janukovich always bends every effort to the creation of facilities for reforming of the elective law of Ukraine based on the international standards. All of them will include the improvement of electoral system, the optimization of election period, the strengthening of the rights of elective process participants, the increase of the preparation level of members of the elective commissions and the improvement of technical aspects of elections. It is necessary to remind on November 2nd, 2010 the leader of the Ukraine created the Working Group on improvement of the elective law by his decree. It should be developing some efficient elective rules according to the advanced European and world standards. Despite of it a lot of statements have recently been heard from separate representatives of the influential international organizations, first of all the Council of Europe, European Parliament and OSCE that are broadly published by the leading mass-media of the EU countries and the USA and call upon for revision of their own positive assessments of the results of last local elections in Ukraine. As the experts say first of all the same statements could undermine the international authority of European institutions.
If such data action with the practically anti-Ukrainian character will be continuing so it also lead to some strengthening of the opinion of the European and US citizens on incompetence and political prejudice of some high-ranking executives of the European Union.
Thus, the assessment of elective process in Ukraine, as well as in other CIS countries by representatives of the influential international organizations shows very evidently the policy of the double standards, “If you do not like the events in some country so that this country and its political process cannot be democratic one”.