Civil Society Against Corruption in Ukraine: Pathways to Impact


  • Max Bader Leiden University, Netherlands
  • Oksana Huss Leiden University, Netherlands
  • Andriy Meleshevych National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, Ukraine
  • Oksana Nesterenko National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, Ukraine



corruption, Ukraine, civil society, international assistance, regional anticorruption civil society organizations


The 2013–2014 Revolution in Ukraine has spurred a boom in civic anti-corruption initiatives across Ukraine. There is as yet little consolidated understanding of how effective these initiatives are and what explains variation in effectiveness. Insights from academic and practitioner literature suggest that factors associated with success in anti-corruption activism fall under three broad categories: environmental factors, advocacy strategies of civil society organizations, and their organizational characteristics. Drawing on a comprehensive study of anti-corruption activism in the regions of Ukraine, this article asks how these insights relate to anti-corruption activism in the regions of Ukraine. We find that anti-corruption initiatives generally face two key dilemmas: insufficient capacity in terms and financial and human resources, and the absence of a credible base of support. Anti-Corruption organizations that are most effective tend to be those that convincingly solve either one of these two dilemmas. In addition, we find that political will among local authorities is an important conducive factor to the effectiveness of anti-corruption activism. The article also discusses the implications of our findings for practitioners of international assistance.

Author Biographies

Max Bader, Leiden University

an Assistant Professor at Leiden University with expertise on the postSoviet area. He is the principal investigator of the project Civil Society against Corruption in Ukraine: Political Roles, Advocacy Strategies, and Impact. His research interests include elections, corruption, authoritarian politics, and reforms. He frequently serves as Statistical Analyst in OSCE/ODIHR election observation missions and has been a consultant for USAID, OSCE/ODIHR, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the

Oksana Huss, Leiden University

Post-doctoral researcher at the Leiden University and co-founder of the Interdisciplinary Corruption Research Network (ICRNetwork. org). She obtained her PhD in political science at the Institute for Development and Peace, University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany. The focus of her academic work is on political corruption in hybrid regimes and open government.

Andriy Meleshevych, National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy

Professor at the Department of Legal Philosophy and Constitutional Law and a co-founder of the Anti-Corruption Research and Education Centre at the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy. Prof. Meleshevych holds a PhD from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University (USA), was awarded a visiting fellowship at Stanford University, and served as visiting professor at Heidelberg University, Syracuse University, Groningen University and the University of Helsinki. He has widely published internationally in the fields of comparative political parties and elections, European human rights law, institutionbuilding in the post-Soviet transitional countries, comparative constitutional law and constitutionalism, and the philosophy of law.

Oksana Nesterenko, National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy

Assistant Professor at the Department of Legal Philosophy and Constitutional Law and the Head of the Anti-Corruption Research and Education Centre at the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy. She received her PhD in law from Yaroslav Mudryi National Law University, Ukraine. She specializes in constitutional law, anti-corruption public policy, government transparency, whistleblower protection, freedom of expression and media etc.


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How to Cite

Bader, M., Huss, O., Meleshevych, A., & Nesterenko, O. (2019). Civil Society Against Corruption in Ukraine: Pathways to Impact. Kyiv-Mohyla Law and Politics Journal, (5), 1–35.