The Fundamental Law of Ukraine or the Constitution of Ukraine was adopted on the 28th of June, 1996. It happened on the fifth year of the country’s independence. Though Ukraine was the last of the former Soviet republics to adopt its own constitution, its development and writing had a lot of debates and misunderstandings.
On the day of adoption it took almost 24 hours of work in the session hall of the Parliament (Verhovna Rada) of Ukraine until the deputies finally managed to vote the Constitution. The Main Law of the country came into force the same day.
The Ukrainian Fundamental Law establishes and secures rights, duties and freedoms of Ukrainian citizens. It becomes a basis for all the other laws of Ukraine. The Constitution outlines the legal framework of an independent state, its sovereignty, political system and territorial integrity. It has become an important step in ensuring human and civil rights and contributes to the further growth of the international authority of Ukraine on the international arena.
The Ukrainian Constitution consisted of ХV chapters and 161 articles. Its main divisions are devoted to:
1. General Principles
2. Human and Citizens’ Rights, Freedoms and Duties
3. Elections. Referendums
4. The Verkhovna Rada ( the Parliament) of Ukraine
5. The President of Ukraine
6. The Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine and bodies of Executive Power
7. The Prosecution
8. The Justice
9. Territorial Structure of Ukraine
10. Autonomous Republic of Crimea
11. Local Self-Government
12. Constitutional Court of Ukraine
13. Introducing Amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine
14. Final Provisions
15. Transitional Provisions
Since 1996 the Constitution has had several amendments. The first changes to it were made in 2004. The current Constitution consists of 14 chapters. The 7th chapter was deleted. 166 articles are collected in 13 chapters, and the 15 Section contains 17 transitional provisions.
The current Constitution birthday is celebrated every year since the day of its adoption. June, 28 is a public holiday in Ukraine and an official day-off . Although the constitutional process in Ukraine is still in progress, the respect and observance of the country’s main law is growing, making people understand that the law is necessary for any individual and the whole society. Everyone should obey the laws, because every person wants to live in a free, rich and developed country. Only adhering to the laws of society will lead to its development, both materially and morally, and spiritually.
Ukrainians were the first in the history of Europe who tried to define and secure the relations between people in the society. The contract of Zaporizhya Cossack Hetman Orlyk for Cossack units and troops ( all officers and Cossacks), so called The Bendery Constitution was signed by Ataman Kost Gordienko. The contract defines the rights and duties of all members of the military division. It was concluded in 1710 and approved by the Swedish King Charles XII. The document was written in Latin and Ancient Ukrainian. It had a preamble and 16 articles. According to historians it was one of the first European constitutions and it was the first in the world which established the division the power into 3 branches: legislative, executive, judicial. As the author of the document. Pylyp Orlyk, was in exile it didn’t come into force. But it became a source for many of the following Declarations and Constitutional Documents in many countries.