AMBASSADOR'S BLOG - WHY THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT MATTERS

Kyiv
21.01.11




In a recent blog on human rights in Ukraine I noted that the British embassy in Kyiv had supported projects to help a number of different constituent elements of the Ukrainian legal system including the Constitutional Court.  So I was delighted to have a chance recently to visit the Constitutional Court, and to meet the Chairman, Anatoliy Holovin.

The project the embassy is supporting is called (perhaps not very originally) “UK Support to the Constitutional Court of Ukraine”.  It is designed to improve the Court’s capacity to deal with the public via better use of constitutional appeals process, and to help optimise the way the Court works.  Our meeting was a chance to discuss the project and the work of the Court more widely.  I was pleased to hear the value which the Court attaches to the project and the strong support of the Chairman and other senior officials for it.  The Court has a number of valuable ideas for increasing the accessibility of the Constitutional Court to ordinary people, including improvements to its website.

This all matters immensely.  The Constitutional Court is a central element of Ukraine’s democratic system.  As the debate moves forward on political and constitutional reform, it is vital that the Court – as well as other judicial bodies and law enforcement agencies – is seen to be doing its job in a politically neutral way.  This will apply too to the process of constitutional reform.  President Yanukovych has promised an inclusive constitutional reform process which takes account of a wide-range of different views.  It is vital to Ukraine’s long-term democratic future that the country’s constitutional arrangements, including the Constitution itself, enjoy broadly-based and cross-party political support.  Anything less than that will set a time-bomb ticking under Ukraine’s political system.  That makes the neutrality of the Constitutional Court, and the inclusivity of the constitutional reform process, vital.
 
Leigh Turner
British Ambassador to Ukraine

NOTE:  You can read all of Ambassador Turner's blogs by visiting: http://blogs.fco.gov/roller/turner 


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