Reanimation package of reforms > News > Constitution as a Key to the Country’s Success

Constitution as a Key to the Country’s Success

Ever since it was adopted, the Ukrainian Constitution has never been a truly effective document of value for every citizen. It is high time we changed that. Active civil society is growing aware of the importance of the Constitution and begins to take active part in the implementation of changes.

“All comprehensive amendments to the Constitution have been introduced in a non-constitutional manner. The Constitution was amended not for the benefit of the society and the state, but for the sake of temporary political interests,” says Yulia Kyrychenko, expert of the Center for Political and Legal Reforms and the Reanimation Package of Reforms.

Today Ukraine urgently needs balance between the branches of authority, decentralization of power, and the reform of justice, as well as improvement of the protection of the Constitution (reform of the Constitutional Court). To this end, the Center for Political and Legal Reforms and the Reanimation Package of Reforms are launching the awareness campaign “Constitution”. Its goal is to improve credibility of the Constitution and raise public awareness about the contents of the Constitution and the necessary constitutional amendments, which should guarantee observance of the Constitution by the authorities.

The constitutional reform had a false start and is now making slow progress. The constitutional process initiated by the head of state does not impact the triangle of authority (Parliament, President, Government). The experts in the constitutional law are preparing a comprehensive draft law on amendments to the Constitution so as to improve the parliamentary-presidential form of government.

In response to the public demands, the President of Ukraine has brought before parliament the draft law on amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine regarding justice. Currently, according to the procedure, the Constitutional Court of Ukraine is considering the draft law sent by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine.

     “Constitutional amendments offer an opportunity to check whether all the judges currently employed comply with the requirements for a particular position (to hold re-certification), while the vacant judicial posts will be filled after considering the results of the competition. We hope that such an important process for Ukraine as amending the constitutive law will not slow down and will be brought to an end within the set deadlines. At the same time, the parliament should adopt a package of laws that determine clear mechanisms and deadlines for the reorganization of the judicial system. Without such laws constitutional amendments will be ineffective,” stressed Mykhailo Zhernakov, RPR “Judicial Reform” group expert, member of RPR Board.  

Decentralization was one of the main vectors of the constitutional reform most talked about. Currently, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine should gather 300 votes to amend the text of the Constitution. However, the parliament lacks the votes, as the said draft law includes Article 18 dealing with the peculiarities of local self-government in specific districts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions which have to be determined in a separate law. Although this regulation is not about the special status of Donbas, but about the peculiarities of local government in some of its districts, the discussion of this clause has become politicized. On January 20, 51 MPs appealed to the Constitutional Court for an official interpretation of the provisions of Article 155 of the Constitution of Ukraine – “the next regular session of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine.” In this regard, Chairman of CPLR, co-chairman of RPR Ihor Koliushko says: “Amendments to the Constitution in terms of decentralization might be postponed. Instead of having all the coalition factions give 300 votes and launching a fully-fledged decentralization reform.”

The campaign should make citizens aware that the Constitution is neither a declaration, nor an agreement of politicians, but a social contract between all of us. These are the rules for the society in which we want to live. None of the politicians violating the social contract (the Constitution) shall be in power. The amendments prepared by the Constitutional Commission or those acting as a compromise in the political game and a would-be part of the Constitution will not be effective in the daily life of citizens, unless they are involved in the development of these amendments. The citizens of Ukraine should no longer remain ‘notified’ of the constitutional amendments or receive the updated Constitution of Ukraine as a gift from the politicians.

“The Constitution is a social contract. We have to understand its contents and explain to our children why this word is written with a capital ‘C’,” stressesTetiana Pechonchyk, chairman of the board of the Human Rights Information Center.