University of Minnesota

Conclusions and recommendations of the Committee on the Elimination of
Racial Discrimination, Ukraine, U.N. Doc. A/48/18, paras. 42-65 (1993).



Forty-second session


Concluding observations of the Committee on the
Elimination of Racial Discrimination


42. The eleventh and twelfth reports of Ukraine (CERD/C/197/Add.5 and CERD/C/226/Add.3) were considered by the Committee at its 958th, 959th and 983rd meetings, held on 2 and 18 March 1993 (CERD/C/SR.958, 959 and 983).

43. The reports were introduced by the representative of the State party, who provided information on the legislation adopted in Ukraine since the submission of its previous report. The Ukrainian Parliament had declared that all laws adopted by the State to which Ukraine was the successor would remain in force as long as they were not in contradiction with new legislation. All obligations entered into by Ukraine after ratification by the Parliament had become an integral part of the State's domestic law.

44. The representative indicated that since the submission of the previous report, 122 acts and 336 decrees or legislative texts concerning the Convention had been adopted. These included, in particular, the Act on the Rehabilitation of Victims of Political Repression in Ukraine; the Act relating to the security services; the Act on Citizens' Associations; the Act on National Minorities in Ukraine; the Employment Act; and the Act on Citizenship of Ukraine.

45. The representative informed the Committee that as part of judicial reform a constitutional court had been set up to rule on the constitutionality of laws and other legislative acts. Under the Constitution, the Parliamentary Ombudsman for Human Rights was vested with the power to refer matters to the Constitutional Court in cases where the State had interfered with the constitutional rights and freedoms of citizens.

46. However, despite all the legislative measures adopted by Ukraine, human rights violations on national or religious grounds, as well as conflicts between national groups, did occur at times. The complex situation in which Ukraine currently found itself, characterized by hyperinflation and a dramatic drop in the standard of living, created tensions which, when combined with national, religious and other factors, might give rise to conflicts or human rights violations. The Ukrainian authorities, at both the national and local levels, were trying to reduce friction between nationalities; as a result Ukraine was free from large-scale open conflict between different groups.

47. Members of the Committee welcomed the timely submission by Ukraine of its twelfth report, which included useful information on recent changes in the country. However, while it provided a good overall view of the present situation, the report contained some extraneous material and did not always specify exactly the extent to which the Convention was being implemented. They asked the delegation whether the provisions of the Convention were directly applicable in a court of law; what the situation was with respect to the envisaged establishment of German colonies on Ukrainian territory; whether Ukraine planned to conclude agreements with other countries on the rights of minorities such as the one it had signed with Hungary in May 1991; and whether Jewish emigration from Ukraine was continuing and, if so, whether the persons concerned emigrated without passports and why. Further information was requested about the situation in Crimea, in particular demographic data on the size of each population group in 1920, 1940 and 1990, and on the content of the Act on the Status of the Crimean Autonomous Republic. Members were concerned that the human rights of the population of Pridnestrovye had been violated and that the Crimean Tartar problem had not yet been solved. They also wished to know whether there was an accepted definition of the term "minority" in Ukraine and, if so, whether it covered national as well as ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities.

48. With respect to article 2 of the Convention, members of the Committee asked what the Government of Ukraine was doing to encourage integrationist multiracial organizations and movements. They indicated, with reference to article 2.1 of the Convention, that the policy adopted by a State party with regard to the elimination of racial discrimination should be set down in a clear and comprehensive written document which should be brought to the attention of the public and of the persons responsible for the implementation of the policy.

49. Concerning article 3 of the Convention, members of the Committee wished to have more detailed information about the country's attitude with regard to the sanctions against South Africa. They asked whether Ukraine was in favour of maintaining those sanctions and whether it had diplomatic relations with South Africa.

50. With regard to article 4 of the Convention, members of the Committee indicated that although the Convention had been incorporated into Ukrainian domestic law, legislation still had to be enacted to implement the punitive provisions of article 4. In that connection, they noted that a new version of article 66 of the Criminal Code neither prohibited racist organizations nor prevented official bodies from engaging in racial discrimination.

51. With respect to article 5 of the Convention, members of the Committee wished to know more about the rights of individuals belonging to the various ethnic groups; how those groups took part in the executive and legislative powers and, if such participation was provided for by law, whether there were any quotas; whether Ukraine authorized the formation of political parties based on ethnic origin; and what the position was of the Ukrainian legislature regarding dual citizenship.

52. With reference to article 6 of the Convention, members asked how it had been possible that, in 1991, no one had been convicted under article 66 of the Criminal Code; whether any complaints of racial discrimination had been brought; and whether the public was sufficiently aware of article 66. Members noted that the three-year limit for the submission of compensation claims by victims of repression by the previous regime was too short.

53. Concerning article 7 of the Convention, members of the Committee noted that the section of the report dealing with the implementation of that article did not contain sufficient information. Members of the Committee wanted to know exactly what steps Ukraine was taking in the areas of teaching, education, culture and information to combat prejudice which gave rise to racial discrimination and, more generally, to give effect to article 7 of the Convention.

54. With respect to article 14 of the Convention, members of the Committee particularly welcomed the fact that Ukraine had recognized the competence of the Committee to receive and to consider communications from individuals or groups of individuals claiming to be victims of a violation of any of the rights set forth in the Convention.

55. The representative of the State party, replying to the questions asked and comments made by members of the Committee, said that the views of the members of the Committee would be an important factor in future efforts by the Government to establish conditions for the implementation of the provisions of the Convention. The way in which reports were considered by the Committee enabled States parties to consider their domestic legislation from a more critical standpoint and to remedy shortcomings.

56. He further stated that as a result of the ratification by Ukraine of international human rights instruments, those instruments had been incorporated into Ukrainian law and could be invoked in courts of law. However, rules of principle could not be applied automatically or directly unless they were supported by the necessary practical machinery for their implementation, and a great deal of domestic legislation still had to be adopted for that purpose. In regard to demographic data, that information would be provided in table form in the next periodic report.

57. The representative provided the Committee with detailed information on the issues relating to the Crimea and the Pridnestrovye region, emphasizing that the problem of Crimea was based not on issues of nationality or race, but rather on political conflicts and that therefore it did not come within the scope of the Convention. He explained the situation with regard to emigration to Israel, indicating that, in spite of the efforts undertaken by the Government, emigration continued because life was hard in Ukraine and the prospects of better living conditions always prompted departure. Individuals emigrating from Ukraine maintained their right to Ukrainian citizenship and kept their Ukrainian passports. The representative further explained that article 1 of the Ukrainian law on nationality had maintained the rule set forth in the Constitution of the former Soviet Union granting a single nationality to the inhabitants of Ukraine. However, dual citizenship could be granted on the basis of intergovernmental agreements and the Russian Federation and Ukraine were currently engaged in negotiations to that end.

58. Under the Act on National Minorities, Ukraine had established a special ministry at the national level for dealing with the problems of national groups. In addition, it was also possible to form voluntary advisory bodies made up of representatives of national minorities. The Act defined a national minority as a group of Ukrainian citizens who were not Ukrainian by nationality and who shared a sense of national self-identification and community. According to that definition, members of religious denominations, such as Catholics, or members of linguistic minorities, were not considered national minorities.

59. With regard to article 3 of the Convention, the representative said that in March 1992 an agreement had been reached on the establishment of diplomatic relations between Ukraine and the Republic of South Africa. At the same time, Ukraine was fully committed to implementing the Security Council decisions which had been taken with regard to South Africa.

60. Referring to article 5 of the Convention, the representative said that the problems of religion and freedom of expression which had arisen were often due to the dire economic situation and particularly to the very high rate of inflation, rather than genuine religious discrimination. He further stated that cultural organizations specific to an ethnic group were permissible, but political parties based on ethnicity were not legal since membership would necessarily be discriminatory. Quotas for different nationalities in the Ukrainian Parliament had existed in the past, but now all deputies were elected freely and a wide range of nationalities were represented in the Parliament.

61. With respect to article 6 of the Convention, the representative confirmed that there had been no convictions under article 66 of the Criminal Code since 1991.

62. As far as article 7 of the Convention was concerned, the representative declared that the Convention had been promulgated in the Gazette of the Supreme Council, along with other human rights instruments. It had also been translated into Ukrainian and could be found in libraries and other places freely accessible to the public.

Concluding observations

63. The Committee commended the regularity with which the Government of Ukraine had reported on the implementation of the Convention, for the high quality of its delegation's replies to questions and for its candour in acknowledging deficiencies.

64. The Committee noted the broad range of information provided in the twelfth periodic report on historic changes taking place in Ukraine, its support on the international scene for the protection of human rights and especially national minorities, and its adoption of legal instruments for developing democracy and strengthening the rule of law. It was nevertheless felt that demographic data could have been presented in a more illustrative way. Hope was expressed that the existing situation of unrest there would be resolved with respect for human rights and for the rights of ethnic minorities.



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