On this day, 30 years ago, the Verkhovna Rada of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic adopted the Declaration of State Sovereignty of Ukraine.
The document’s preamble proclaimed "the supremacy, independence, completeness, and indivisibility of the power of the Republic within its territory and independence and equality in foreign relations." Only the Verkhovna Rada could speak on behalf of the Ukrainian people. The territory of Ukraine within the existing borders was declared inviolable. The exclusive right of the Ukrainian people to own, use, and dispose of the national wealth of Ukraine was also underscored.
The Verkhovna Rada also proclaimed the country's right to have its own armed forces, internal troops, and state security agencies. Ukraine undertook a commitment not to proliferate, produce, or build up nuclear weapons. Ukraine's future foreign policy, as defined by the Declaration, was seen as neutral and its priority was to ensure the national interests of Ukraine.
The Declaration created the basis for republican lawmaking, independent from the USSR legislation. However, the adopted document did not receive the status of a constitutional act. Ukraine remained a part of the USSR, so international organizations and countries did not recognize its state independence. The Verkhovna Rada of the Ukrainian SSR lacked the authority to withdraw from the Soviet Union, i.e. to declare the independence of the Ukrainian SSR. In accordance with the Constitution of the USSR and the Ukrainian SSR, only the people of the Ukrainian SSR had the right to make such a decision on a referendum. The effective norms of international law also obliged the Verkhovna Rada of the Ukrainian SSR to hold a referendum.
The Declaration of State Sovereignty of Ukraine became the basis of the Act of Declaration of the Independence of Ukraine adopted by the Verkhovna Rada on August 24, 1991. On that day, Ukraine was actually proclaimed an independent democratic state for the second time and finally withdrew from the USSR. The country's independence was supported on the nationwide referendum on December 1, 1991.