Twenty-five years of Ukrainian Constitution.
Dr. Oleksandr (Sasha) Kondrashov
June 28, 2021
Constitution Day is an opportunity for every Ukrainian and those connected to Ukraine to broaden their knowledge of the Constitution. I am grateful to my high school teacher Jevhenija Oleksijevna Behen who taught me the foundation of law in 9th grade. We had an opportunity to learn about the moment our class had experienced on June 28, 1996. My university professor Dr. Zoriana Haladzhun also introduced me to the additional analyses of each article in the Constitution during the Foundation of Constitutional Law in Ukraine course during my BSW degree at the Lviv National Polytechnic University.
Thanks to the Constitution of Ukraine, I am now can live in Canada! Article 33: Right for freedom of movement and free choice of the place of residence. It also allowed me to complete high school and post-secondary education BSW/MEd at the Lviv National Polytechnic University (Article 53: The right for education).
Its concise, elegant language and its far-reaching ramifications shaped my life history and impacted the lives of every Ukrainian.
June 28 is a Constitution Day in Ukraine. It is a public holiday that celebrates the anniversary of signing the Constitution of Ukraine in 1996.
On this day, the people of Ukraine are given the sole authority to decide on the significant amendments carried out in the parliament, confirming Ukraine as a democratic nation. Ukraine is a sovereign, secular nation with a comprehensive democratic system of the Constitution.
The first Ukrainian Constitution is considered the Pylyp Orlyk Constitution, which was adopted on April 5, 1710. It was a contract between the Cossack Hetman Pylyp Orlyk and the Cossacks, which defined the rights and duties of all members. Another Ukrainian constitution was the Ukrainian National Republic (UNR) Constitution, adopted on April 29, 1918. It was emphasized that all power in the Republic «is derived from the people», and its supreme body is the General Council. In Soviet times, when Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union as the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, four constitutions were adopted successively, of 1925, 1929, 1937 and 1976. Those legal instruments reflected different stages of the Soviet system and were based on the pattern of the Constitution of the USSR and its ideological ground. (Consulate of Ukraine in Edinburgh, 2015).
There were 15 constitutional proposals between 1990-96 before Speaker Oleksandr Moroz forced MPs to pass a constitution before leaving parliament. The resulting 20+ hour session led to Ukraine’s Constitution being passed at 9.18 am. As the last post-USSR country to adopt a new constitution, Ukraine was also the last place where the USSR constitution was still used (Reaney, 2020). To see the moment the Constitution was adopted, click here.
What rights of the Ukrainians spelled out in the Constitution?
There are a few categories of them.
- Right for the free development of personality (Article 23)
- The inherent right to life (Article 27)
- Right for the respect of human dignity (Article 28)
- Right for freedom and personal integrity (Article 29)
- Right for the sanctity of the home (Article 30)
- Right for the privacy of correspondence, phone talks, telegraphic and other correspondence (Article 31)
- Right for noninterference in private and family life (Article 32)
- Right for freedom of movement and free choice of the place of residence (Article 33)
- Right for freedom of thought and speech (Article 34)
- Right for freedom of world view and religious confession (Article 35)
- The right to unite in the political parties and non-governmental organizations (Article 36)
- The right to participate in the management of the public affairs, in all-Ukrainian and local referendums, to freely elect and be elected to the bodies of the public power or bodies of the local self-government (Article 38)
- The right for peaceful gatherings, protests (Article 39)
- The right to appeal to the bodies of the public power, bodies of the local self-government and their officials (Article 40)
Economic, social and cultural
- The right of every person to own, use and manage the property, results of intellectual or creative activity (Article 41)
- The right for entrepreneurship (Article 42)
- The right for employment (Article 43)
- The right to strike to protect economic and social interests (Article 44)
- The right for rest (Article 45)
- The right social protection (Article 46)
- The right for accommodation (Article 47)
- The right for a sufficient standard of living for a person and his/her family (Article 48)
- The right for health-care (Article 49)
- The right for the environment safe for life and health (Article 50)
- The right resulting from the provision of the free consent for marriage and protection of maternity, paternity, childhood and family (Article 51, 52)
- The right for education (Article 53)
- The right for freedom for creativity and results of intellectual activity (Article 54)
You can review the entire Constitution of Ukraine document here.
Have a thoughtful reflection and celebrate the Constitution of Ukraine Day.