Ukraine needs a ‘Marshall Plan’ say academics

Jan 4th, 2014 | By | Category: Economics, Human Rights, News, Politics

(Set annotations ON in YouTube to read the petition)

It’s a letter in the Guardian today from a group of academics who say:

“We are calling on our governments and international organisations to support Ukrainians in their efforts to put an end to a corrupt and brutal regime and to the geopolitical vulnerability of their country. Ukraine needs a European Marshall-like plan that would ensure its transformation into a full democracy and society with guaranteed civil rights. In elaboration of a new policy towards Ukraine, we propose to draw a distinction between the Ukrainian government and Ukrainian society. While the former must be treated with a maximum of strictures, the latter deserves a maximum of support.

Let us help Ukrainians to build a new Ukraine – and then they surely will help us build a new Europe and a fairer world.”

Interestingly, Slavoj Zizek who had earlier been opposed to a ‘Marshall Plan for the Balkans is one of the signatories and what he says about the need for large scale interventions in the following video is congruent:

In August 2007 a strategy plan described as  Microeconomic development and social enterprise – A ‘Marshall Plan’ for Ukraine was published in the news journal ForUM. Part one focussed on childcare reform, microfinance assistance and development of affordable internet infrastructure. Part two described a development centre for social enterprise backed by a social innovation fund.

In February 2008 USAID, the Senate Council on Foreign Relations and the US Ambassador were reminded  of the proposal and the extent of R.I.C.O activities with particular emphasis on childcare and the trade in embryonic stem cells and not least the courage of those in civic activism who we’d worked alongside in our exposure of ‘Death Camps, For Children’

In December 2008, it was put forward as a proposal for the EU citizens consultation.

In June 2010 British PM David Cameron was peritioned to support it.

It began:

“Focus of this plan is on the microeconomic sector because this is the most effective way to immediately meet the fundamental objectives of a Marshall Plan: policy directed against hunger, poverty, desperation, and chaos. Tools, innovations and methodologies are available today that were not available sixty years ago for tightly-focused microeconomic development aimed specifically and very effectively at target objectives. This is not to diminish nor detract from macroeconomic factors that continue to impede Ukraine’s development. Those factors include such things as tax reform, energy policy, continued reduction of systemic corruption, Constitutional reform, and fostering further development of civil society and freedom of media.

The most urgent component of the project below is relief and modern medical treatment for tens of thousands of Ukraine’s children diagnosed as psychoneurologically handicapped. Many have died in state care, in primitive and inhumane conditions. Many are misdiagnosed, and end up in atrocious conditions. Following intense publicity and public discussion of the issue during final preparation of this project, Ukraine’s government agreed on 5 March, 2007 to open more than 400 new treatment facilities for these children all over Ukraine. That commitment from Ukraine’s government was a major step forward, clearly demonstrating Ukraine’s willingness and ability to take initiative in childcare reform first and foremost.

As will become clear, childcare reform involves a complex, intertwined, interconnected set of issues and problems. It is therefore essential to outline these issues and problems and deal with them together as a whole. Key elements are childcare reform, poverty reduction, and communications infrastructure. Underpinning this effort is a new Center for Social Enterprise to be based in Kharkiv National University. CSE will include an academic program combining business, social services, social sciences and modern medical science into a new interdisciplinary academic discipline and program, social enterprise. This Center will engage students, faculty, business leaders, policy makers and citizen organizations and citizens in a common, unified program toward fulfilling the initial objectives outlined herein. The Center will further create new programs as participants learn new, innovative ways of thinking in identifying, analyzing, understanding and resolving Ukraine’s social and economic problems.

Release date for this plan was October 2006, since which time it has been in circulation and discussion among officials in Ukraine. First results, indicated above, were agreement by Ukraine’s government to open more than 400 new treatment centers for psychoneurologically disabled children – the most urgent need. This is an abridged version of the original for Ukraine’s ForUm, whose staff were instrumental in communicating and helping tremendously in achieving that first critical objective.

The argument for social enterprise development may be of interest to those who now advocate an alternative to capitalism in that it reasoned for a business approach which would deploy profit toward social objectives. Reforming childcare being the primary focus. The paper concluded:

“This is a long-term permanently sustainable program, the basis for “people-centered” economic development. Core focus is always on people and their needs, with neediest people having first priority – as contrasted with the eternal chase for financial profit and numbers where people, social benefit, and human well-being are often and routinely overlooked or ignored altogether. This is in keeping with the fundamental objectives of Marshall Plan: policy aimed at hunger, poverty, desperation and chaos. This is a bottom-up approach, starting with Ukraine’s poorest and most desperate citizens, rather than a “top-down” approach that might not ever benefit them. They cannot wait, particularly children. Impedance by anyone or any group of people constitutes precisely what the original Marshall Plan was dedicated to opposing. Those who suffer most, and those in greatest need, must be helped first — not secondarily, along the way or by the way.

From there, broad economic and social development can develop “upwards” concurrently with more conventional top-down approaches to economic development. Moreover, this program will not only meet initial, most critical and urgent objectives of childcare reform and poverty relief in Ukraine, it will also provide training for ever-growing numbers of specialists educated in social enterprise economic thinking with sufficient funding to put ever more well-designed projects into action as Ukrainian citizens invent them.

Due to Kharkiv National University’s international student body, education and training will be further distributed throughout the world. This is a program for the common good in Ukraine, with common ground among all political factions regardless of what differences exist otherwise. It will benefit not only Ukraine’s poorest and most vulnerable people, but also Ukraine’s overall economic development and advancement. It will further benefit the developing world as international students train in Ukraine and return for benefit of their home country.

Ukraine now stands on the brink of remarkable opportunity to emerge as an international leader in political, economic and social transformation. Nothing more than real, honest opportunity to fulfill this potential, by ordinary Ukrainian citizens, is needed for that potential to manifest and become reality. The original Marshall Plan greatly assisted Europe. Ukraine’s time has come.


The death of the author in 2011 brought tribute from friends at Maidan who described how in his final hours, his only concern being for the voicless:

“On his death bed he was speaking only of his mission – rescuing of these unlucky kids. His dream was to get them new homes filled with care and love. His quest would be continued as he wished.”   

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