What a Constitution Can, and Cannot Do? (DRI event in Ukraine)

What is the meaning of the right to rebellion or resistance in a constitution? Does the law sanction an uprising against leaders that betray democracy? How can referendums be an effective mean of expressing the will of the people in Ukraine? In view of Ukraine’s history, this questions most occupied students and young professionals at DRI’s workshop “What a Constitution Can, and Cannot Do?”, organised in Odesa on 23 and 24 March.

The workshop focused on answers for few age-old questions:

  • How should a good Constitution look like?
  • What is the role of the international law in the Constitution writing process?
  • How can even well-elaborated legal texts be ineffective and/or irregularly amended in certain contexts and environments?

Michael Meyer-Resende, DRI’s Executive Director, opened the event with thoughts on ‘democratic constitutions’ in comparative perspective. He discussed whether Constitutions as social contracts really exist, and challenged the participants to think about this question through the lens of the Ukrainian context.

Meyer-Resende argued that lawyers often spent too much time focusing on the text, while laws are not implemented or followed. To ensure that Constitutions are respected, they must be underpinned by a constitutional and democratic culture.

Following the opening, Vsevolod Rechytskyi initiated the debate on how good constitutions should look like and on which role they can play in shaping economic development. Olena Lysenko brought international law as a guiding framework for constitutional building into the discussion, explaining that a number of constitutional rights and freedoms can be and are being reshaped by international standards. DRI’s Regional Coordinator in Odesa, Dmytro Koval, moderated the last session, where participants debated on topics covered during the workshop.

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