Constitution - the Standard of Legitimacy. Types of Constitutions. Constitutions of Ukraine, Great Britain and the USA.


Constitution – the Standard of Legitimacy

Constitution is the body of doctrines and practices that form the fundamental organizing principle of a political state. A constitution is a set of rules which defines the relationship between the organs of government and between the government and citizens of a country. Its purpose is to set the framework of governmental power and the rights and duties of the citizens. Therefore, the constitution of any independent country will determine the system of government in that country.

In some states, such as the United States, the constitution is a specific written document; in others, such as the United Kingdom, it is a collection of documents, statutes, and traditional practices that are generally accepted as governing political matters. States that have written constitutions may also have a body of traditional or customary practices that may or may not be considered to be of constitutional standing. Virtually every state claims to have a constitution, but not every government conducts itself in a consistently constitutional manner.

In its wider sense, the term constitution means the whole scheme whereby a country is governed: and this includes much more else besides law. In its narrower sense, ‘constitution’ means the leading legal rules, usually collected into some document that comes to be venerated as ‘The Constitution.’ But no country can be compressed within the compass of one document, and even where the attempt has been made, it is necessary to consider the extralegal rules, customs, and conventions that grow up around the formal document.

Written constitutions In most Western countries the constitution using the term in the narrower sense, is a scheme of government that has been deliberately adopted by the people. Examples are the Constitution of the United States, drawn up in 1787 and ratified in 1789 and still in essentials unchanged; the constitution of the Weimar [΄waima:] Republic or that of the Federal Republic of Germany, brought in force in 1949; and the constitutions that France has had since the Revolution. The constitution in these countries is the basis of public law; it is usually enacted or adopted with special formalities; special processes are devised for its amendment and sometimes safeguards are inserted to ensure that certain provisions are unalterable.

Unwritten constitutions,An unwritten constitution means that it is not formally enacted; its rules can be found in a dozen fields, not in any one code. Similarly, it is flexible and here is the contrast with a rigid constitution. There are no special safeguards for constitutional rules; constitutional law can be changed, amended or abolished, just like any rule of private law.

The Constitution of Ukraine

Governed by the Act of Ukraine’s Independence of August 24, 1991, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine on behalf of the Ukrainian people adopted the Constitution – the Fundamental Law on June 28, 1996.

The Constitution establishes the country’s political system, assures rights, freedoms and duties of citizens and is the basis for its laws. It asserts that Ukraine is a sovereign and independent, democratic, social, legal state. It is a unitary state with single citizenship. Ukraine is a republic. The people are the only source of power which is exercised directly and through the bodies of state power and local self-government. The land, mineral raw materials, air space, water and other natural resources which are on the territory of Ukraine are objects of the property right of Ukrainian people. The state language in Ukraine is Ukrainian.

The state symbols of Ukraine are the State Flag, the State Emblem and the State Anthem of Ukraine. The State Flag is a blue and yellow banner made from two equal horizontal stripes. The Small State Emblem of Ukraine is the trident. The Anthem of Ukraine is the national anthem with the music of M. Verbytsky.

The capital of Ukraine is Kyiv.

The Constitution states that every person has the right to the free development of his/her personality, and has obligations before society where free and full development of the personality is assured. Citizens have equal Constitutional rights and freedoms and are equal before the law. There are no privileges or restrictions based upon race, color of skin, political and other beliefs, gender, ethnic and social origin, property, ownership, position, place of residence, language, religion. The articles of the Constitution guarantee the rights to life, personal inviolability and the inviolability of dwelling, noninterference in private life, free choice of residence, work, rest, education, social security, housing, health protection, medical care and medical insurance, legal assistance, a safe and healthy environment.

Defense of the Motherland, of the independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine, and respect for the state’s symbols are the duty of citizens. Citizens of Ukraine perform military services in compliance with the law. No person may damage the environment, cultural heritage. Every person shall pay taxes and duties in the order and amount determined by law.



The Constitution outlines the structure of the national government and specifies its powers and duties. Under the Constitution the powers of the government are divided into three branches – the legislative which consists of the Verkhovna Rada, the executive, headed by the Prime Minister, and the judicial, which is led by the Supreme Court. The Parliament – the Verkhovna Rada is the only body of the legislative power in Ukraine. There are 450 people’s deputies who are elected for a term of five years on the basis universal, equal and direct suffrage by secret ballot. The Verkhovna Rada’s main function is making laws. Laws drafting work is performed by its Committees. The Verkhovna Rada adopts the state Budget for the period from January 1 till December 31 and controls the execution of it. The President of Ukraine is the head of the state and speaks on behalf of it. He is elected directly by the voters for a term of five years with no more than two full terms. The highest body of the executive power is the Cabinet of Ministers. It is responsible to the President and is accountable to the Verkhovna Rada. It carries out domestic and foreign policy of the State, the fulfillment of the Constitution, as well as the acts of the President, develops and fulfills national programs on the economic, scientific and technical, social and cultural development of Ukraine. Justice in Ukraine is exercised entirely by courts. It is administered by the Constitutional Court and by courts of general jurisdiction. The Supreme Court of Ukraine is the highest judicial body of general jurisdiction.

The monetary unit of Ukraine is the Hryvnia.

The Constitution defines the territorial structure of Ukraine. It is composed of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, 24 regions, districts, cities, and districts in cities, settlements and villages. Cities of Kyiv and Sevastopol possess a special status determined by law.

The Constitution of Ukraine consists of 16 chapters, 161 articles.

The day of its adoption is a state holiday – the Day of the Constitution of Ukraine.

The British Constitution

Before examining the nature of the British constitution it is important to have a clear understanding of what is meant by ‘organs’ or ‘institutions’ of government. In this context we mean the executive, the legislature and the judiciary, in addition, in the United Kingdom, the monarch has an important constitutional role as head of the state.

The British constitution is not ‘written’, that is to say, it has never been wholly reduced to writing. Further, since Parliament is ‘sovereign’ it can, without any special procedure, and by simple Act, alter any law at any time, however, fundamental it may seem to be. Although, therefore, the courts have always been statute to safeguard the rights of the subject and although legal remedies, such as habeas corpus, are designed to protect him, yet, under the constitution, there are no guaranteed rights similar to the fundamental liberties safeguarded by the US Constitution.

The statement that the British Constitution is not ‘written’ does not mean that the British citizens possess no important constitutional documents; it merely means that the constitution is not embodied in any single document, or series of documents, containing the essential constitutional laws. Thus, the British citizens have many enactments which either have been or still are, of great importance. One needs only to cite as examples Magna Carta (1215), the Habeas Corpus (1679), the Bill of Rights (1688) – which set out the principle rights gained by Parliament and the nation as the result of the seventeenth century constitutional struggles – the Act of Settlement, (1700), and the Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949.

The sources of the British Constitution can be found in custom law, case law books, European Community law (since 1972) / European Union law (at present) and, most important, constitutional conventions. These are informal or ‘moral’ rules – a code of practice for government, which has evolved over the years. They are primarily concerned with the relationship between the Crown (Monarch) and the executive and the legislature. Many constitutional rules, such, for example, as the provisions of the Act of Settlement are laws in the ordinary sense, that is, they will be recognized and enforced by the courts.









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