On the Occasion of the 25th Anniversary of the Constitution of Ukraine, a Final International Scientific and Practical Conference Held

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On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Constitution of Ukraine, the International Scientific and Practical Conference "The Constitution of 1996: Ukraine Within the Framework of European Constitutionalism" commenced at the Yaroslav Mudryi National Library of Ukraine on June 24, 2021 in Kyiv.

The event was organized by the Constitutional Court of Ukraine together with the European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission), the National Academy of Legal Sciences of Ukraine with the support of the OSCE Project Co-ordinator in Ukraine and the German Foundation for International Legal Cooperation (IRZ).

Among the conference participants are the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, Judges of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine, retired CCU Judges, members of the Research Advisory Council of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine, representatives of the scientific and academic community and international experts.

The introductory speech at the international conference was made by the Deputy Chairman of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine, Doctor of Law, Corresponding Member of the National Academy of Legal Sciences of Ukraine Serhiy Holovaty. He noted that on June 28, 1996, at 9.18 am in the session hall of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, a storm of emotions broke out in the session hall of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine: the Constitution of Independent Ukraine was adopted. “The session lasted almost 24 hours. An epoch-making event took place - The Constitution of Independent Ukraine was adopted. Consequently, the independent Ukrainian State was constitutionally legalized”, Serhiy Holovaty said, recalling the events of that time.

The Deputy Chairman of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine stressed that at the beginning of the 18th century, in 1712, substantiating the sovereignty of the Ukrainian Cossack state created during the national revolution of 1648-1676 and proving the final need to restore Ukraine's sovereignty, Hetman Pylyp Orlyk in the political memoir "Origin of the Rights of Ukraine" wrote as follows: "This fact reliable and it is well known that the Cossack nation and Ukraine were free. The Cossacks have a human and natural right, one of the main principles of which is: the people always have the right to protest against oppression, as well as to enforce the exercise of their ancient rights when they have the right time to do so."

However, Serhiy Holovaty noted that, unfortunately, the "right time" to "attract the exercise of their ancient rights", especially the "human and natural rights" to freedom, for Ukrainians came more than a century later than when the first constitutions were created, but only recently, 30 years ago.

The political compromise of that time, Serhiy Holovaty said, is what gives the Ukrainian Constitution a national identity.

The Deputy Chairman stressed that 25 years is an appropriate period of time to assess how our Constitution has been tested in the practice of the coordinate system of European constitutionalism, which is exactly what today's conference is dedicated to.

In his welcoming speech to the participants of the event, the Chairman of The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Dmytro Razumkov noted that the Constitution of Ukraine is the Basic Law, which defines the main values of the state - human, his or her life and health.

He stressed that the adoption of the Constitution of Ukraine was a difficult compromise reached by the Parliament, the President and the Ukrainian society, however, it is an example of how the Verkhovna Rada together with other state institutions can work. "Only by uniting our efforts will we be able to achieve the result that people want - prosperity, peace, victory, the rule of law, which exists and should exist in our state," said Dmytro Razumkov.

The Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada stressed that the laws should be the same for everyone, only in this way we will be able to build a state that will fully comply with all the principles of the rule of law that are sacred to the European Union.

The Representative of the President of Ukraine to the Constitutional Court of Ukraine Fedir Venislavskyi read out the congratulations of the President of Ukraine to the participants of the International Scientific and Practical Conference on the of the 25th Anniversary of the Constitution of Ukraine.

Welcoming the conference participants with a significant event in the life of Ukraine, the President of the European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission) Gianni Buquicchio highlighted the positive role of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine in executing the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights. The speaker noted that many decisions of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine comply with the high standards of the common heritage of European constitutionalism.

At present, Gianni Buquicchio stressed, Ukraine is at the crossroads of judicial reform and reform of the constitutional jurisdiction. He pointed out the importance of the fight against corruption and identified the important role of the Constitutional Court in combating this negative phenomenon.

The decisions of the Court are final and binding and contribute to the establishment of the rule of law, the speaker stressed.

President of the National Academy of Legal Sciences of Ukraine, Doctor of Law, Professor, Full Member of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine Oleksandr Petryshyn noted the crucial role of the initiative of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine in holding a number of scientific events. In the context of discussing the issue of amending the Constitution of Ukraine, he pointed out the role of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine, namely the timeliness and argumentation of its acts on the constitutionality of reforms. In addition, he stressed the need to intensify the work of the Research Advisory Council of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine.

In his welcoming speech, OSCE Project Co-ordinator in Ukraine, Ambassador Henrik Willadsen noted that constitutions are designed to be stable even in times of crisis. The Constitution represents the hopes and aspirations of the Ukrainian people and the ideal of the society that Ukraine aspires to become. It is a fundamental part of people's lives, a mirror of Ukrainian society that reflects both the history of the country and the values ​​it cherishes: human dignity, equality and freedom. The Constitution proclaims to the world that Ukrainian society is subject to democracy, the rule of law and the protection of human rights.

Director of the German Foundation for International Legal Cooperation Stefan Hülshörster, congratulating the Ukrainian people on a significant event in the life of the state, said that 25 years of the Constitution is a short period, but enough to assess whether the constitution is a guarantor of the rule of law. In his speech, he pointed put the long-term cooperation between the Constitutional Court of Ukraine and both the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany and the German Foundation for International Legal Cooperation.

During the event, the participants summed up the results of regional scientific and practical conferences held by the Constitutional Court of Ukraine on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Constitution of Ukraine on June 14, 16 and 18, 2021. (Read more)

In particular, Vice-Rector for Academic Affairs of the Yaroslav Mudryi National Law University, Head of the of the Research and Advisory Council of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine, Doctor of Law, Professor, Corresponding Member of the National Academy of Legal Sciences of Ukraine Yuriy Barabash, Vice President on Scientific and Pedagogical Work and International Activities of Ivan Franko National University of Lviv Professor of the Department of Constitutional Law of Ivan Franko National University of Lviv, Deputy Head of the Research and Advisory Council of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine, Doctor of Law Serhiy Riznyk, Head of the Department of Constitutional Law of the National Law University "Odesa Law Academy", Member of the Research Advisory Council of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine, Candidate of Law, Associate Professor Dmytro Terletskyi presented their opinions on the issues.

 

 

As part of the International Scientific and Practical Conference "The Constitution of 1996: Ukraine Within the Framework of European Constitutionalism" on June 24, 2021, two sessions were held, during which participants exchanged views on the formation of national constitutionalism, improving constitutional justice, effectiveness of protection of human and civil rights. Serhiy Holovaty chaired the sessions of the international scientific event.

Lecturer at the Department of General Theoretical Jurisprudence and Public Law, Faculty of Law of National University “Kyiv-Mohyla Academy”, Doctor of Law, Professor, Corresponding Member of the National Academy of Legal Sciences of Ukraine, former Judge of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine Mykola Koziubra presented a report “Core Values of European Constitutionalism and Their Implementation In the Constitution of Ukraine: Achievements and Challenges”. In his speech, he focused on the formation of constitutionalism in Ukraine, in particular on the doctrinal approaches that underlie constitutionalism.

The Constitution of Ukraine, the speaker stressed, was positively assessed by the international and European community. According to him, the Constitution of Ukraine in its modern form is a "standard European constitution" based mainly on liberal values, such as respect for human dignity, a mechanism of checks and balances, and so on.

Mykola Koziubra stressed that there are no ideal texts of the constitution in the world, and the Constitution of Ukraine is not an exception in this respect as in some of its provisions "the remnants of the previous Soviet era are felt."

Judge of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine, Doctor of Law, Professor, Corresponding Member of the National Academy of Legal Sciences of Ukraine Viktor Horodovenko presented the report “The Doctrine of “Margin of Appreciation” (Space of Reflection) in the Jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine”.

The Judge noted that the doctrine of "margin of appreciation" is known in European legal thought as developments of case law of the European Court of Human Rights. According to the speaker, the ECtHR believes that in its judgments it does not intend to impose any specific model on member states regarding procedures, competences and other powers of state bodies, as such issues may concern important and delicate aspects of justice and balance.

Referring to international statistics, Viktor Horodovenko said that the "margin of appreciation" doctrine had been used in more than 700 ECtHR judgments, which broadly meant the room for maneuver that the Strasbourg institutions were prepared to provide to national authorities in fulfilling their obligations under the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of 1950.

The Judge of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine also noted that the doctrine of “margin of appreciation” is also studied in national law and is referred to as the “doctrine of a political issue” and the “doctrine of the field of discretion of the state”; as well as the "doctrine of freedom of discretion", but this doctrine also has no clear understanding.

Head of the Department of Constitutional, Administrative and International Law of the Kyiv Institute of Intellectual Property and Law of the National University “Odesa Law Academy”, Doctor of Law, Professor Anzhelika Krusian made a report on the topic: “The Constitution of Ukraine and the Principles of European Constitutionalism”. Among other things, she covered the content of the principle of the rule of law, as well as analyzed the decisions of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine, which revealed this constitutional principle.

Mykhailo Kostytskyi, former Judge of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine, Doctor of Law, Professor, Full Member of the National Academy of Legal Sciences of Ukraine spoke about realistic and populist assessments (domestic and foreign) of the 1996 Constitution and practices of its application. He drew the attention of those present to the assessments given to the Constitution of Ukraine after its adoption. According to Mykhailo Kostytskyi, the Basic Law of the state is not perfect, however, in his opinion, the Constitution of Ukraine is one of the least in need of change.

In his speech, Mykhailo Kostytskyi noted that the assessments of the Constitution are divided into realistic and populist, while he added that populism is a political tool. According to the rapporteur, the Constitutional Court should not resort to populism, but should remain within the framework of the Constitution and defend it.

Professor, Doctor, President of the Constitutional Court of Lithuania (2014–2021) Dainius Žalimas congratulated the conference participants on the 25th anniversary of the Constitution of Ukraine. In his report “Europeanization of the Constitution”, Dainius Žalimas discussed the issue of the supremacy of the constitution over international law, and spoke about constitutional principles in the context of the Europeanization of the constitution.

President of the Constitutional Court of Rhineland-Palatinate of the Federal Republic of Germany, President of the Supreme Administrative Court of Rhineland-Palatinate Germany Lars Brocker delivered a report “The Constitutional Court of Ukraine: an Actor in the European Space of Fundamental Rights”. The speaker stressed the importance of the chosen topic of the event and noted that they are the coordinates that determine the direction and landmarks. The European constitutional space is a superstructure of a kind of space of fundamental rights, based, in particular, on the mechanisms and tools for their implementation. He noted the importance of dialogues between the constitutional court and other judicial institutions.

Director of Human Rights, Directorate General of Human Rights and Rule of Law, Council of Europe, Christoph Poirel, emphasised the importance of strengthening the principles of the European constitutional heritage by executing the judgements of the European Court of Human Rights. In his speech, he stressed the role and impact of the practice of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe.

US Federal Judge Bohdan Futey in his speech revealed the realities of the rule of law and judicial independence. He believes that the rule of law is a cornerstone in promoting democracy around the world, and democracy, in turn, provides better living conditions. He focused on some of the most important characteristics of the rule of law.

Chief of the Rule of Law Unit at the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights Ghenadie Barba delivered a report “Constitutions and Rule of Law in the OSCE Region”.

He, in particular, drew the attention of those present to the role of constitutional jurisdiction in terms of protection of constitutional citizens’ rights in a pandemic COVID-19. Ghenadie Barba stressed the importance of the independence of the judiciary and reported on the activities of the OSCE in strengthening democracy and judicial independence.

Summing up, Serhiy Holovaty highlighted the necessity of holding four conferences dedicated to the 25th anniversary of the Constitution of Ukraine and thanked the co-organizers and participants for their fruitful work.

At the end of the event, the winners of the TV contest “New Generation” on constitutional law Dmytro Melnyk and Sofia Chorna were awarded.

A video broadcast of the conference is available on the Court's official YouTube channel.

 

 

 

 

Developed with the support of OSCE Project Co-ordinator in Ukraine
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