The Constituion is our responsibility
The Ukrainian Civic Constitutional Committee has issued a statement regarding plans expressed to resolve the constitutional crisis during 2008. The statement welcomes the intentions “to increase constitutional safeguards for human rights and civil liberties, to create a balanced system of state power, strengthen the role of local self-government and prepare suggestions for systematic improvements to the Constitution”.
The authors stress that it is not possible to carry out successful constitutional reform without wide-scale public discussion and the direct involvement of politically independent experts. It is the public who should create a new version of the Constitution through their own authorized representatives. It is the public who must be active players in the constitutional process, stipulating rights and duties and developing rules for self-organization, the principles for organizing a system of governance and the general framework for politicians to work within.
“At the same time, the plans put forward by the President for a National Constitutional Council could elicit an unforeseen reaction from political opponents. The public may question the Presidents sincerity due to the confusion and fundamental failure to distinguish between the Constitutional Commission (Council) and constituents (the assembly). The National Constitutional Council authorized by the President to draw up a new draft of the Constitution not only cannot, but must not, usurp the role of the constituent which is a body directly entrusted with this by the people. The National Constitutional Council cannot take on this role, whoever is on it, since it is only an advisory body under the President. The new draft will be subjected to criticism not of a substantive, but of a political nature, however good it is.
The Presidents aim – to pass a new Constitution – is undoubtedly correct however the proposed way to achieving it requires improvement. Instead of regulating the constitutional crisis, he can bring political confrontation onto the level of conflict between different texts of the Constitution and different ways of passing it, and this could end in a final and irrevocable collapse of a single political system. It would be productive in the given situation for the President to cooperate with civic society to fulfil the idea of the people having constituent power via a Constitutional Assembly
Both the coalition and opposition should have an interest in the formation of such a Constitutional Assembly since this will enable them to keep face before their voters. After all, in this matter there are no winners or losers, but new rules of political activity for all. This is a difficult path however it has proved its worth in many countries under different historical circumstances.
We call on citizens of Ukraine to take a fully active part in the new constitutional process.
The Constitution is too important to be left to politicians!
Members of the Civic Constitutional Committee: Oleksy Haran, Volodymyr Horbach, Yevhen Zakharov, Yury Zbitnyev, Ihor Kohut, Ihor Koliushko, Viktor Musiyaka, Anatoly Pinchuk.