Constitutional Law Expert, Sujit Choudhry, Attends Meeting in Ukraine

Celebrated Founding Director of the Center for Constitutional Transitions, Sujit Choudhry, was part of the team of legal professionals who converged in Ukraine to deliberate on Ukraine’s governing system which is largely semi-presidential. The meeting, which was held on 10th of July 2017 in Ukraine’s City of Kiev, also sought to discuss the constitutional issues that riddled the country in light of the country’s constitutional instability.

The hosts of the workshop were International IDEA and the Center of Policy and Legal Reform. Internal IDEA, which stands for International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, is an intergovernmental organization known for its support of socially responsible democracy across the globe. The Center of Policy and Legal Reform, on the other hand, is considered to be Ukraine’s top think tank. These two organizations brought the constitutional experts together to come up with ways in which Ukraine’s system of government could be improved.

Speaking about the meeting, Choudhry expressed that he felt privileged to have been invited to discuss the country’s executive powers together with renowned experts in the fields of research and constitution. Choudhry also highlighted the two-decade long instability of the democratic system of Ukraine. He further attributed this instability to such factors as inferior political parties, the saturation of control in the presidential office, the gap of authority between the President and the Prime Minister, and the legislature’s electoral system.
Other Key Participants

Some of the other individuals that attended the meeting were:
•International IDEA’s Sumit Bisarya.
•Dalarna University’s Thomas Sidelius.
•Vladimir Vasilenko, who sits on the UN Human Rights Council as Ukraine’s representative.
•Sergyi Holovatyi- a member of the Venice Commission and the Constitutional Commission of Ukraine.
• Victor Musiaka- the president’s representative in the 1996 Supreme Council.
• Ihor Koliushko- a former Member of Parliament, sitting member of the Center for Policy and Legal Reforms, and the previous advisor to Ukraine’s President from 2005 to 2006.
Some of the issues discussed during the workshop
The Kiev workshop addressed various issues concerned with designing a feasible semi-presidential system for the country. This has been established as a crucial objective for Ukraine because of various reasons. Examples are:

1. Strong legislature
The current governing system of Ukraine has placed so much power on the president which makes the legislature relatively pointless. A more powerful system in place would ensure that the legislature is strengthened enough to maintain effective oversight over the government and the president.

2. Executive power sharing
A stronger semi-presidential system is needed to create more effective power sharing between the Prime Minister and the President. This would ensure the two offices complement each other better.

3. Presidential leadership
Ukraine has been riddled by a number of crises over the last two decades due to the government’s instability. It is hoped that putting a stronger governing system in place will alleviate the situation.

4. Minimizing presidential power
Ukraine’s biggest problem seems to be the fact that a too much power is vested in the hands of the president. The experts deliberated the possibility of reducing presidential power to a logical level and the possible positive significance of such a move on the country’s constitutional stability.

Owing to his vast experience in the field of Constitutional law, Sujit Choudhry has given lectures in more than 24 countries. He has also advised on countless constitutional matters across the globe. The July 10th Workshop in Ukraine came not long after Choudhry released “Constitution Making”. “Constitution Making” is a collection of case studies, unique topical articles relating to constitutional law, and other relevant academic contributions. His latest publication is available at http://www.eelgar.com/shop/constitution-making.

Sujit Choudhry explained that today many transitional democracies are making decisions relating to constitutional reforms. He added that it was, therefore, crucial for leaders who were well versed with the same to come together and develop reliable alternatives to drive the process of constitutional reforms. He also noted that it was important that these alternatives be based on proven research.

Who is Sujit Choudhry?
Sujit Choudhry is a world renowned comparative constitutional law expert. Choudhry serves as the Director of the Center for Constitutional Transitions which partners with NGOs, multilateral companies and think tanks in mobilizing and guiding global experts to determine and establish effective alternative policies for decision-makers. He also works as the l. Michael Heyman Law Professor at University of California’s Berkeley Law School. The Professor of Law has years of experience in constitutional processes wherein he has served as a constitutional advisor in Tunisia, Libya, Nepal, Egypt, South Africa, Jordan, Sri Lanka and Ukraine. He has also spoken in more than two dozen nations and is a consultant to the UNDP and the World Bank. The former Dean of Berkeley School of Law has also served as a Cecilia Goetz Professor of Law at New York University. Professor Choudhry is also a former Scholl Chair at the University of Toronto. The good professor boasts law degrees from Toronto, Harvard, and Oxford. Previously, Sujit Choudhry has worked at the Supreme Court of Canada as Chief Justice Antonio Lamer’s law clerk.
Choudhry has done a lot of research on issues related to politics and comparative constitutional law which has made him a powerful authority in this field. His research includes but is not limited to constitutional designs, semi-presidential-ism, and constitution building. He also has a number of publications on Canadian constitutional law. These include almost 100 articles, reports, working papers and book chapters. In addition, Sujit Choudhry sits on the following boards:

•Executive Committee of the International Society of Public Law
•Editorial Board of the Constitutional Court Review
•Scientific Advisory Board of the International Journal of Constitutional Law
•Editorial Advisory Board for the Cambridge Studies in Constitutional Law
•The United Nations Mediation Roster
•International Advisory Council of the Institute for Integrated Transitions

About the Center of Constitutional Transitions:
Founded by Sujit Choudhry in 2012, the Center for Constitutional Transitions’ main business is mobilizing knowledge in support of constitutional processes. The organization has worked with more than 50 constitutional experts spread across over 25 countries. The organization liaises with experts across the globe to conduct research aimed at furthering constitutional reforms.

Further reading about Sujit Choudhry: http://www.indiawest.com/news/global_indian/u-c-berkeley-law-professor-sujit-choudhry-co-edits-new/article_163b28d6-e9a6-11e6-a1f5-f7dfdfa8c09d.html

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