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The World is Helping Ukraine: Can Ukraine Help the World?

ARTICLE | | BY Bohdan Hawrylyshyn


Bohdan Hawrylyshyn

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Because of the military aggression by Russia, Ukraine is in war, and is in a poor political, economic, social and ecological state. The world is helping Ukraine by condemning Russia’s actions, by imposing sanctions on Russia and by financially helping Ukraine. A majority of the countries in the world are however themselves in a very poor state, with dissatisfied people, because not all their human rights can be ascertained and because the relations between people, groups and countries are harshly competitive.

When thousands of people manifesting against non-signature of the Treaty on Association with the EU and opting for European values were brutally attacked in Maidan, medical, psychiatric, and educational services were created. These services were initiated by individual people, without any instructions, or any help from the government. They did it out of the sense of obligation towards their fellow countrymen. Competent people joined the initiators and no competitive services were created.

Also, thousands of volunteers risking their lives went to fight against the Russian aggressors out of a sense of obligation towards their country. This is how “new Ukrainians” acted according to the new paradigm, out of a sense of obligation and in cooperation. This can inspire people in other countries to think and act to achieve the necessary new paradigm.

After World War II the USA helped rebuild the world through the Marshall Plan. As chair of the United Nations Human Rights Commission, Eleanor Roosevelt was the driving force in creating the 1948 charter of liberties: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). On 10 December 1948 the Universal Declaration was adopted by the General Assembly. Even though it was not legally binding, UDHR created big moral expectations. Some expectations were realized but difficulties emerged almost immediately. It was naturally assumed that governments had the power and also the responsibility to guarantee the rights of their citizens. The governments became overburdened and unable to live up to the expectations of their citizens. It is now clear why.

The world then functioned on the basis of harsh competition between individuals, groups and countries. Within countries it was the more affluent members of the society who could ascertain their rights, like the access for their children to high quality education or the right to proper healthcare. This limited the ability of the majority of the population to ascertain similar rights. A lot of dissatisfaction emerged with more criticisms of governments, making good governance more difficult, thereby increasing the competition for power within democratic countries.

Take the USA as an example. There is a small proportion of very rich people but nearly 45.3 million people live below the poverty line.1 The difference between the rich and the poor is by far the greatest of the 20 developed countries. This difference has some very negative consequences: the state of health is by far the worst, the proportion of mentally ill is the highest, the cost of healthcare per person and the incidents of incarceration are by far the highest.2 This is well described in the book Ill Fares the Land by Tony Judt.3

Similar situations arose in relations between different countries. All democratic countries were “preaching” to poorer countries the need for adherence to the UDHR, yet they themselves made it more difficult for poor countries to guarantee the rights of their citizens. American, French and German companies obliged African countries to buy their manufactured goods at high prices and to sell raw materials at high prices.4 These African countries remained poor, thus even in countries with reasonably honest governments it was impossible to guarantee the most basic, vital rights for their citizens such as access to fresh water, primary education or any kind of healthcare.

According to orthodox economics, there has been a significant increase in GDP per capita in nearly all countries. The feeling of well-being, according to orthodox reasoning, has also increased. There is, however, no direct relation between increase in GDP and the feeling of well-being. In some countries, take Costa Rica for example, GDP per capita is low,5 the index of happiness is high (score of 7.3 out of ten, ranks 12th among 88 countries).6 In other countries in which there is a tremendous competition between people and companies, a lot of pressure is generated to perform better and better, the relation between high GDP and feeling of happiness is inversed. For instance, between the beginning of January 2008 and April 2011, more than 60 France Télécom (now Orange) employees committed suicide.7

One can conclude, therefore, that the UDHR and harshly competitive relations have led to a win-lose situation with few winners and a majority of losers.

What the world needs is a shift to a new paradigm, i.e. a Universal Declaration of Human Obligations and change from competitive to cooperative relations.

How can Ukraine help the world make this shift?

Thanks to Maidan, to the young people mainly, and to Russian aggression, Ukraine transformed itself from a multi-ethnic country to a multi-ethnic patriotic political nation. This nation opted for European choice, European value of freedom, truth, liberties and dignity of the individual. Recently, Bishop Borys Gudziak, Founder and Former Rector of Ukrainian Catholic University (UCU) in Lviv, now in Paris, said: “the transformation of Ukraine reminded Europeans of what their values are”. He added that “it was the students of UCU in Lviv that went on their Maidan before November 29 2013, and called upon the young people to do the same in Kyiv”.

The above citation underlines the role the young generation has played in the transformation of the Ukrainian people. This implies that the transformation of the governance of Ukraine will also have to be carried out by young people.

What had started even before Maidan was a program called Young Generation Will Change Ukraine (YGWCU). Its mission is transformation of the structure of political power, economic system, social and environmental policies without revolution. How is the program working? Young people, in the age group of 20-35 with good education, knowledge of English and interested in doing something for Ukraine, form groups of seven people. Each group is composed of people with different education, knowledge or interest in politics, economics, social sphere and the environment. They study six European countries which are effective with the following four characteristics:

  • Full political freedoms (transparency and openness of government);
  • Certain level of economic prosperity for the whole population;
  • Social justice, especially in education, healthcare, employment, pension schemes;
  • Symbiosis with the biosphere (nature, environment) rather than its exploitation, destruction, pollution.

Five states match the criteria mentioned above: Austria, Germany, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland. Poland is added to the list as a country which has most of the above mentioned characteristics and which passed through 3 stages of Transformation.8 Starting from changing its mentality during the Solidarnosc, then transformation of its economic system through shock therapy by Leszek Balcerowicz;9 and finally - political transformation while preparing for membership of Poland in the EU.

Each group in the program YGWCU decides which country it wants to explore. They first study all the facts on the Internet: the Constitution, the structure of the Parliament, the responsibilities of the Head of the State, of the Government and the role of the civil society. They then have a meeting with the Ambassador of the chosen country, ask questions, listen to suggestions. Following such a meeting, each group prepares a study trip to the chosen country through direct contacts with members of the Parliament, representatives of various ministries, of the political parties, some NGOs. Once they return to Ukraine, they write reports and publish articles, hold seminars and share with interested people what they have learned in the chosen country.

The clear purpose of the above is to select components for the architecture of future social political order of Ukraine which should have the four abovementioned characteristics. These young people continue on the road towards transformation of Ukraine in two different ways: some of them form groups and prepare themselves for the 2015 elections to city and regional councils, as sort of apprenticeship in the legislative process. Others will form groups according to professional criteria (finance, education, healthcare, environment) and will integrate the executive branches of the government. After a few years, with hundreds of such young people having gone through the process, they will create a new political philosophy, ideologies and plans of actions. Then, three new parties or one party with a large spectrum (socialist, centric and liberal) will emerge.

One part of participants of the program will go for election to the Parliament, where they are likely to be ideologically, programmatically and morally a majority. The other will hold higher positions of the executive branch of the government.

The program is working extremely well. 14 groups of seven people have completed the first phase in 2013, 23 in 2014 and 71 groups have registered for participation in 2015. It shows an amazing mobilization of young activists who are a moving force for socio-political changes.

When the brutal repression of people started in Maidan, another transformation of Ukrainians took place: medical, psychiatric and educational services were created. These services were initiated by professionals in the respective fields without any orders from the state authorities or any assistance from them. They did it out of the sense of obligation towards their fellow countrymen, towards the country. Each of the people that launched the service was joined immediately by other qualified people, so they worked in cooperation. Moreover, there were no such parallel services created, there was no competition between them.

The above initiative confirmed the choice of European values, with one slight difference. The Ukrainians have acted, I emphasize, out of a sense of obligation and in cooperation rather than on order and in competition.

There is some similarity between the above and direct democracy as it functions in Switzerland. The Swiss Parliament elects seven people to become members of the Federal Council (the government) from five biggest parties.10 Members of the Federal Council are not spokesmen for their parties, yet they carry with them their parties’ ideologies. The decision-making process requires a consensus rather than a simple vote.11 Each of the members of the Council shares his or her concerns on the subjects they care about: representative of the socialist party will try to get some more money for education and healthcare, the liberal, some better conditions for enterprises, etc. In this way everyone gets something and there are no total losers.

Values and behavior exhibited in Maidan (a sense of obligation and cooperation), like the Swiss consensus, are important for the world to become healthier.

Another initiative strengthens the possibility for Ukraine to be able to help the world. In September 2013, in Ottawa, a meeting of the board of trustees of WAAS was held, followed by a joint conference with the Club of Rome. I had raised the issue, with my colleagues from the Academy, of the need for the Universal Declaration of Human Obligations (UDHO) and offered to prepare a proposed list of obligations. I produced the list with the help of Alexandra Telychko, my 23-years old Ukrainian assistant, in Geneva. .

In November 2013, a conference was held in Almaty (Kazakhstan), with participation of members of WAAS and the World University Consortium (a consortium that aims to promote development of accessible, affordable, quality higher education worldwide). Instead of going to the conference to present the Proposed List of Obligations, I asked my assistant to do it in my place.

There was yet another initiative. Two 22-year old participants of the YGWCU program studied the functioning of the General Assembly of the UN and suggested that Ukrainian delegation to the UN should include two representatives of the young generation. We advised the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to take the two young persons in question as official members of the delegation. This was done for the first time since the independence of Ukraine in 1991. One of the tasks for the young representatives was to prepare the ground for the presentation of the list of the UDHO when the General Assembly will discuss Millennium goals for 2015-2025. Our two young delegates established good contacts with young delegates of other countries, to cooperate with them in proposing better youth policies and in promoting the adoption of the UDHO.

“A shift from the win-lose mode to win-win game is necessary. We must act out of a sense of obligation in the spirit of cooperation.”

Few weeks ago, I received a letter from the Head of the Ukrainian delegation to the UN, saying that the two girls in question have been working most effectively in various committees and that the inclusion of representatives of young generation in the delegation should become normal practice.

When Ukraine becomes transformed, living and acting according to the New Paradigm will spread to the majority of the population, including the business and political sectors.

When the world shifts to the New Paradigm, a much greater proportion of its population will be able to enjoy the rights: as per UDHR, our heritage of values and philosophy from the constructive 40s of the past century.

To summarize, the world is not in a healthy state. It needs some help in healing itself, in revitalizing its values of freedom, dignity of the individual, supremacy of law, social justice (rather than focusing just on money). A shift from the win-lose mode to win-win game is necessary. We must act out of a sense of obligation in the spirit of cooperation.

Ukraine can be of help in the process because it has gone through a very painful process of recreating itself through a new birth, with values and behavior mentioned above, which could be useful for the world to emulate.

Proposed Declaration of Human Obligations*

  1. Speak the truth, be honest, act according to moral ethical standards.
  2. Maintain your health in the best possible state in order not to burden the society with the cost of your healthcare.
  3. Learn, develop your talents, capabilities, competence throughout your life to be a productive member of the society.
  4. Treat others as you want others to treat you.
  5. Be a free person, i.e. the ultimate judge of what is true and what is not, what is good and what is bad, yet keep testing your judgment to make sure that it is in line with moral, ethical principles.
  6. Search for harmony between your private, professional, social lives, and as part of the community.
  7. While seeking to ascertain your rights, avoid constraining other members of the society to ascertain theirs.
  8. Solve as many problems, issues as possible at individual, family, community levels to lighten the burden and cost of governance.
  9. To family:
    • Cherish cultural heritage from your predecessors.
    • Treat parents with love and respect, help them if needed.
    • Deal with siblings as if they were your best friends.
  10. To parents:
    • Love your children, inculcate in them ethical moral values.
    • Facilitate their education and development of their talents and personalities as free people.
  11. To community:
    • Relate to people and communities with respect and empathy.
    • Help the community to be effective in supplying all services, such as primary education, healthcare, social services.
    • Contribute to the well-being of all members of the community.
    • While maintaining your identity, be consciously part of the whole world community.
  12. To the environment:
    • Use all resources sparingly, avoid pollution of the biosphere. Help preserve the biological and zoological diversity.
  13. To your country:
    • Obey the laws of the country.
    • Help your country in line with your ability/capacity to maintain the priority of the common good: full political freedoms, a certain level of economic well-being of the whole population, social justice, healthy environment.
  14. To future generations:
    • Leave the physical environment in a better state than inherited: with enhanced cultural heritage, values, to enable future generations to be more effective in political, economic, social, cultural aspects of their societies.
  15. To the world:
    • Protect and promote resilience, creativity and equal opportunities for all.
    • Be tolerant and respectful of all races, ethnics, religions, languages.
    • Learn some languages and at least basic things about other civilizations.
    • Promote the understanding of the diversity of civilizations, their values, thus peaceful cooperation and fair trade.


  1. DeNavas-Walt, Carmen and Bernadette D. Proctor, “Income and Poverty in the United States: 2013,” in U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Reports (Washington DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2014).
  2. “The Poverty and Inequality Report 2014,” The Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality
  3. Tony Judt, Ill Fares the Land (New York: Pengiun Books, 2011).
  4. Neyire Akpinarli, The Fragility of the ‘Failed State’ Paradigm: A different International Law Perception of the Absence of Effective Government (Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers, 2009), 207.
  5. “Costa Rica and the IMF,”International Monetary Fund
  6. John F. Helliwell, Richard Layard and Jeffrey Sachs, eds., World Happiness Report 2013 (New York : Sustainable Development Solutions Network, 2013), 22.
  7. Bernard Nicolas, “Humiliation, dépression, démission: l’offre triple play de France Télécom,” Les Inrocks,
  8. Leszek Balcerowicz, “Poland’s Transformation,” Finance & Development 37, no. 3 (2000).
  9. Grzegorz W. Kolodko, A Two-thirds Rate of Success: Polish Transformation and Economic Development, 1989-2008 (Helsinki: UNU-WIDER, 2009).
  10. “The Swiss Federal Council,” The Federal Authorities of the Swiss Confederation
  11. La Confédération en bref 2014 (Bern: Federal Chancellery, 2013), 41.

* Prepared by Prof. Bohdan Hawrylyshyn with the assistance of Alexandra Telychko, Junior Fellow, World Academy of Art & Science

About the Author(s)

Bohdan Hawrylyshyn

Felllow, WAAS; President, Bohdan Hawrylyshyn Charitable Foundation