Concluding Remarks by Acting Chairman of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine Serhiy Holovaty at the International Conference, June 28, 2022

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At the end of the International Conference, Deputy Chairman of the Constitutional Court Serhiy Holovaty, who moderated the event, noted that many issues were discussed, yet some of them were not voiced.

“I will say a few words about what has not been voiced today. At a certain moment, there appeared concern within the Court itself and, I think, outside the Court as well, when the phrase was thrown that someone would reconsider the relevance of the Constitutional Court in Ukraine. And today this concern was not expressed. But why? We shall thank the European Commission and the European Council for including the Constitutional Court in the first place in the list of seven tasks for the government. This means that the European Union had decided that the body of constitutional jurisdiction in Ukraine will exist. The only thing that needs to be done is to make it better. Therefore, anxiety can be buried. The Constitutional Court in Ukraine, as it was planned in 1996, has been established and will continue to exist. Tell me, please, is the selection of judges a reform of the Constitutional Court? In wide circles, in society, journalists, political scientists, experts talk about the “reform of the Constitutional Court”. But I will tell you that the first issue out of these seven tasks was written in the document of the Venice Commission back in 2015. Seven years passed since then. The second document of the Venice Commission, which clearly states that there should be a competitive selection, including an international element, is the Urgent Opinion of the Venice Commission on the reform of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine of 2020. And the last, third document of the Venice Commission is dated March 2021. Then tell me, what does “the reform of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine” have to do with it. The Court is the judges. Therefore, really, this is not our problem in principle. This is the legislator’s problem.

Today, it has also not been said in what conditions the Court is currently working. In fact, how long have there been fourteen of us? One and half a year. We are fourteen out of eighteen. What does it mean for making a decision which is ten. It means two thirds. Please tell me, is each body capable of working, making decisions by two-thirds? Especially in the doctrinal plan, when there is a doctrinal dispute or discussion. It is extremely difficult. But no one said that for 25 years of its activity, the Constitutional Court has experienced political pressure. After all, one can understand political institutions that are not satisfied with the activities of the Constitutional Court. This is normal, this is a regular practice. Because they often seek solutions to their own advantage, in their political interests. But it is not our task to satisfy the political needs of political institutions. Therefore, in all these conditions, today’s activity of the Constitutional Court, including the martial law and previous conditions, is understaffed. And the Venice Commission has repeatedly recommended to the Ukrainian authorities to provide a mechanism so that there is a full composition in Court. That is, if there is a vacancy for a judge’s position and the political institution does not fill it, then the judge, as in the European Court of Human Rights, remains in office. He or she remains until there are eighteen judges continuously. This is not our task.

Despite everything, I want to express my confidence in one thing: the Constitutional Court proves that it is committed to the ideals and values on which the European Union was founded and the Court is capable of doing and will do what it is called upon professionally, institutionally, and even in conditions of incomplete composition. Because a stable and true democracy, which is one of the values on which the European Union is based, can be built only when the constitutional construction is solid. And our constitutional construction, which is provided by the Constitution of Ukraine, is solid. And this constitutional construction will always remain solid and its institutional guarantees will be then successful when all this will rely on one more European ideal, i.e. the rule of law. We are able to further do so”.

 

 

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