Today, June 28, Ukraine celebrates one of the most important holidays of its statehood - Constitution Day. Will this day be a day off from work in Ukraine? Why is this holiday so significant?
Today, June 28, Ukraine celebrates one of the most important holidays of its statehood – Constitution Day. Will this day be a day off from work in Ukraine? Why is this holiday so important for every Ukrainian? When the Ukrainian constitution was created, you will learn from our article.
This holiday is one of the largest public holidays in Ukraine, so Art. 73 of the Labor Code includes them in the list of non-working days. Usually, Ukrainian citizens have a day off on this day. However, this year, due to martial law in the country, the general day off was canceled by the Act “On the organization of labor relations under martial law” (Article 6). Although, of course, the heads of companies and state-owned enterprises can privately provide their employees with the possibility of additional rest on this day.
However, regardless of whether this day is a working day for someone or not, this holiday does not lose its importance. So why is this holiday important? And why does it have a special meaning for Ukrainians today?
The country's constitution is the most significant legal act that defines the main rights and opportunities of citizens. The Constitution of Ukraine also contains all the fundamental rights and freedoms of Ukrainians, guaranteeing their implementation, and defines the democratic path of the state. The current Constitution contains the following elements of Ukraine's statehood:
All laws adopted in the country are based on the Constitution, and it has the highest legal force.
Even before its final independence, Ukraine had several constitutions. Each of them embodied the aspirations of Ukrainians to create an independent state based on the rule of law.
This document appeared in 1710 in an ancient fortress in the Ottoman city of Bender. It was there that some 4,000 Ukrainian Cossacks were given political asylum after being defeated by the Swedes in the Great Northern War against Moscow. Being in forced exile and having lost their hetman (Ivan Mazepa died soon after), the Cossacks did not know what to do and needed to understand their mission and a new leader. This leader was Pylyp Orlyk, a former general official who created a revolutionary document, extremely important for the then history of Ukraine.
In its content, it was an agreement between the government and the Cossacks. Today we know this document as the Constitution of Pylyp Orlyk. This constitution embodied the hopes of the exiles for the rebirth of their own state and provided guidance for their aspirations and efforts.
Being unique for its time, this document stated:
Today, it is often said that Pylyp Orlyk's constitution was the first in the world. However, this is not entirely true. Unlike the American or French constitution, the Orlik constitution, for historical reasons, could not be implemented on the territory of the entire Hetmanate.
On April 29, 1918, the Constitution of the Ukrainian People's Republic was promulgated – the Statute on the state system, rights, and freedoms of the UPR. The document was adopted by the Central Council on the last day of its existence. The UPR constitution proclaimed
According to the concept of representatives of the Central National Council, the Ukrainian state was to be a parliamentary republic (without a president), and the highest legislative authority was to be the People's Assembly.
Despite the fact that Ukraine gained independence in 1991, the Ukrainian constitution is only 27 years old this year. This is due to the fact that after the declaration of independence, Ukraine lived without the main law for another 5 years. By the way, this is the longest period among all post-Soviet countries. Although, the Constitutional Commission was established almost immediately after the adoption of the Declaration of State Sovereignty of Ukraine by the Supreme Council of the Ukrainian SSR. So for five years the document was the subject of hard work, discussion and consultation.
The Constitution of Ukraine was adopted on June 28, 1996 during the fifth session of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine of the second term. Since then, this date has been designated as Constitution Day, which is celebrated annually in the country. On that day, more than 300 deputies worked on adopting the provisions of the new Basic Law. They worked on the documentary almost non-stop for 23 hours. 315 deputies voted in favor of the newly created constitution, and the document entered into force immediately.
Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine is a flagrant violation of all provisions of the Ukrainian constitution. Indeed, today's war deprives Ukrainian citizens – adults and children – of the rights set out in the Basic Law: the right to life, freedom, education, a dignified life, and most importantly, the right to be Ukrainian. Nevertheless, it is important to remember our fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution and to be able to fight for them. After all, as today's First Lady Olena Zelenska noted:
Children who know their rights from an early age will grow up to be adults who will not give them up.