Kyiv Mohyla Foundation
kyiv mohyla foundation e-newsletter
#20, May 2012
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Establishing the Rule of Law in Ukraine: Building a Modern Society

"At his best, man is the noblest of animals; separated from law and justice he is the worst."

Aristotle wrote this line over 2,300 years ago, and it remains relevant as we gather here today to discuss the importance of the rule of law in a successful, modern society. One interpretation of Aristotle's statement would be that, in the absence of rule of law, there is no society – at least not one that is truly civilized.

One of the hallmarks of the 21st Century is that, at least in terms of perception, the world is getting smaller. Individuals throughout the world are now much more able to observe instantly new developments in diverse societies. Throughout the world we are seeing individuals stand up and proclaim that they would prefer to live in a democratic society governed by a genuine rule of law – a place where no man or woman is above the law and all leaders are accountable. I would suggest that the health of a democratic society largely corresponds to the degree to which it is ruled by its own laws.


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Dr. Sergiy Kvit article about Ukraine's new law on higher education

In my previous blog, I wrote about Ukraine's new law on higher education. This has now developed in quite an unexpected way.

To understand the way things work in Ukraine, one must remember that it is a post-Soviet state with its own features that cannot be compared to any other system in the world.

For example, it is quite natural for a Ukrainian official, even one not suspected of being corrupt, to think one thing, say another and act in a way that reflects neither what he thinks nor his proclaimed position. Under these conditions, laws are not just bypassed but become so flexible that they can be used in support of totally opposite positions.

Once I asked two rectors of really good Ukrainian higher education institutions the following question: "Why do you support any decision taken by the Ministry of Education and Science in Ukraine, including the obviously absurd draft law on higher education?" The answer was that I worry about the wrong things because it does not matter what the new law says.


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Kyiv Mohyla Foundation of America (KMFA) is a non-profit, non-governmental organization established in 1992 to support and assist the National University of Kyiv Mohyla Academy and institutions of higher learning in Ukraine to reach excellence in education and innovative research, to help students and faculty achieve personal and intellectual growth and to contribute to Ukraine's democratic reform through education with a focus on the rule of law and ethical standards.
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