On June 28 Ukraine celebrates national holiday – the Constitution Day. Ukrainian State Basic Law was adopted in 1996 at the 5th session of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine of the 2nd convocation. During the voting in favor voted 315 out of 450 deputies of the Ukrainian Parliament. The Constitution of Ukraine come into force after its adoption.
The Constitution of Ukraine consists of a preamble and 15 chapters. The preamble emphasizes that the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine adopts this Constitution - the Constitution of Ukraine - on behalf of the Ukrainian people - citizens of Ukraine of all nationalities.
The Constitution of Ukraine provides a fairly rigid process of modifications and additions. For approval of appropriate amendments to its various sections required 2/3 to 3/4 of the constitutional composition of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. However, it can not be changes that abolish or restrict the rights and freedoms of man and citizen, or aimed at the elimination of independence, or threaten the territorial integrity of the State (the Article 157).
The main provisions of the Constitution of Ukraine of 1996 are norms that define the general principles of the political system of Ukraine. According to the Article 1, Ukraine is a sovereign and independent, democratic, social, law-based state. Democratic nature of the state specifies the Article 5, declaring Ukraine as a republic form of government, as well as consolidating in the Ukrainian state the principle of democracy. The people are the bearers of sovereignty and the only source of power. Democracy form of government in Ukraine is determined by the fact that state power is exercised on the basis of its division into legislative, executive and judicial. Relevant authorities exercise their power within the limits prescribed by the Constitution and in accordance with the laws of Ukraine.
The Constitution of Ukraine of 1996 defined the constitutional authorities of Ukraine, their status and powers. Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine is the sole body of legislative power in the state. The President of Ukraine is determined by the Constitution as President, acting on its behalf. He is the guarantor of state sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, of the Constitution, the rights and freedoms of human and citizen. The supreme body of the executive power is the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine. The central authorities are ministries, state committees and other state-level agencies. The state executive bodies are regional authorities as well established in the cities of Kyiv and Sevastopol respective administrations. Local administrations are required to coordinate with the relevant local authorities, to help them meet the needs of local communities, addressing the urgent issues of life.
The sole body of constitutional jurisdiction in Ukraine is the Constitutional Court of Ukraine, which decides on the conformity of laws and certain regulations of the Constitution of Ukraine and provides the official interpretation of the Constitution of Ukraine and laws of Ukraine (Article 147).
The history of the constitutional process in Ukraine goes back to Kievan Rus at its source is a collection of ancient Ukrainian law «Russian Truth» and later historical monuments of the legal culture of Ukraine – «Lithuanian Statute» – the acts of the period of the Bohdan Khmelnytsky`s Cossack state "March article» or «Articles of Zaporizhia army».
The first Ukrainian Constitution is considered to be the Philip Orlik Constitution, which was adopted on April 5, 1710. It was a contract between the Cossack Hetman Philip Orlik and the Cossacks, which defined the rights and duties of all members of troops. Orlik`s Constitution consists of a preamble and 16 articles, written in Latin and Old Ukrainian language. According to historians, the Constitution of Philip Orlik is one of the first European constitutions.
Another Ukrainian constitution was the Constitution of the Ukrainian National Republic (UNR), adopted on 29 April 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, was adopted successively four constitutions of 1925, 1929, 1937 and 1976. Those legal instruments reflect different stages of the Soviet system and were based on the pattern of the Constitution of the USSR and its ideological basis.
After adoption on August 24, 1991 the Verkhovna Rada of the Ukrainian SSR Act of Independence of Ukraine and approved it by the people at the National Ukrainian referendum on December 1, 1991, Ukraine was recognized by most countries as a sovereign state and a full subject of international relations. Then urgently faced the need for urgent constitutional recognition of the foundations of social and political system, the rights and freedoms of human and citizen, the organization and functioning of public authorities and local governments of the young independent state.
On June 8, 1995, was concluded the Constitutional Treaty between the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and the President of Ukraine on the basic principles of organization and functioning of public authorities and local self-government in Ukraine for the period until the adoption of the new Constitution of Ukraine, which lost its force after adoption by the Verkhovna Rada of the 1996 Constitution.
In 2003, Ukraine initiated a constitutional reform, which resulted in the adoption by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine on December 8, 2004 (403 votes in favor) the Law of Ukraine № 2222-IV «On Amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine", which expanded the powers of the Ukrainian parliament. However, on September 30, 2010, the Constitutional Court of Ukraine abolished the effect of this law.
Constitutional reform was renewed in February 2014. In particular, on February 22, 2014, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine adopted the Resolution «On the text of the Constitution of Ukraine in the version of June 28, 1996 with changes and supplements, made by the respective laws of Ukraine of December 8, 2004 No. 2222-IV, of February 1, 2011 No. 2952-VI and of September 19, 2013 No. 586-VII».
Today, constitutional reform is one of the cornerstones of the reform agenda in Ukraine and one of the priorities of the Ukrainian state. Working with the amendments to the Constitution is based on the rule of law, openness and transparency. The process of preparing amendments to the Constitution concerns primarily the decentralization of state power and significant empowerment of local communities.
At a meeting of the Government of Ukraine on April 1, 2014 was approved the Concept of reforming local government and territorial organization of power in Ukraine.
Implementing the concept is planned in two phases:
- Firstly (during 2014) is expected to complete the formation of legislation of local governments and authorities to the definition of powers, including the question of their resource provision;
- In the second (2015-2017) provides institutional reorganization of local government and local authorities and local elections on the basis adopted reforms.
The concept was previously agreed with all regional and city councils, Ukrainian and international experts and approved by the Council of Europe as a first step towards the reform of local government in Ukraine. The document meets with the principles of the European Charter of Local Self-Government.
Prior to October 1, 2014 will continue a broad public discussion of the organization and ensuring realization of which vested in the Deputy Prime Minister - Minister of Regional Development, Construction and Housing and Communal Services of Ukraine Mr. Vladymyr Groisman (draft amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine (concerning the decentralization of power) and the concept of local government reform and territorial organization of power in Ukraine posted on the website of the Ministry: http://minregion.gov.ua/koncepciya-reformuvannya-miscevogo-samovryaduvannya-ta-teritorialnoyi-organizaciyi-vladi-v-ukrayini-333230).
Key changes to the Constitution of Ukraine is concerning Section IX «Administrative division» and XI «Local Government». Also suggested some amendments to Chapter IV «Parliament of Ukraine», V «President of Ukraine» and VI «Cabinet of Ministers. Other executive power».
The adoption of appropriate amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine will ensure the creation of a proper legal framework for the approval of a number of legislative acts necessary for the implementation of the local government reform. Among them are a new Law «On Local Self-Government», «On local state representative», amendments to the Budget Code, as well as a number of laws that determine the distribution of powers between the executive authorities and local governments and their distribution among the different local government level.
Embassy of Ukraine
to the Hellenic Republic