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Yuri Polakiwsky: Celebrating the legacy of Bohdan Hawrylyshyn

Published Oct. 19, 2021. Updated Oct. 19 at 1:38 pm
Bohdan Hawrylyshyn speaks to the Kyiv Post about the tech industry and the role of IT in the future of Ukraine at his office in Kyiv on Jan. 27, 2016.

Photo by Volodymyr Petrov

On Oct. 19, the Bohdan Hawrylyshyn Family Foundation, is celebrating the “National Day of Human Responsibilities” both in Kyiv and in centers throughout Ukraine. He would have celebrated his 95th birthday on this day.

Bohdan Hawrylyshyn was a visionary. In his book, “The Declaration of Human Responsibilities” he sought to reinterpret and tailor, Eleanor Roosevelt’s initiative, the “Declaration of Human Responsibilities” to Ukraine’s society.

Its core tenet – that there are no rights without responsibilities.

Born in Ukraine, Hawrylyshyn emigrated to Canada as a refugee after World War II. Eventually, after achieving a solid education, he moved to Switzerland where he was head of the International Management Institute. There he contributed to the establishment of the World Economic Forum, which eventually became a primary forum for world leaders in Davos.

As a prominent economist, lecturer and author of numerous articles and books, he was also a member of the Club of Rome, the Academy of Arts and Sciences, and was in demand as a senior advisor to presidents, ministers and various governments.

However, it was his dedication to Ukraine’s youth and his insightful awareness of the strength and power in their potential to transform Ukraine into a vibrant modern democracy that would inspire and motivate his work in the last chapter of his life.

He took early retirement, moved to Ukraine and began his inspirational work to prepare future Ukrainian leaders to transform their society.

His vision was based on the belief that one day Ukraine would be transformed into an economically thriving modern-day democratic society.

However, he readily understood that it would not come about by either chance.

The basis for a rules-based society would have to be built on a philosophical foundation that would inform Ukraine’s post-Soviet mentality and societal practice by promulgating fundamental principles that would have a direct effect on individual behavior based on individual responsibility.

Some of these principles would include: the pursuit of, and speaking, the truth, the development of one’s talent with the aim of being productive, to treat others with dignity and respect, to think and act as a free person, to seek harmony, and the importance of family. He believed in the essential nature of transformation and the need for transformative change if Ukraine was to achieve its potential.

The culmination of today’s celebration is a result of an initiative that was spearheaded by the Hawrylyshyn Family Foundation to establish and institutionalize a key component of his program, “Youth Will Transform Ukraine.” To this end, legislation was written, introduced in the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s parliament, and was legally established by a unanimous vote of the lawmakers.

Ukraine is the first country in the world to have such a day dedicated to the principle of responsibility.

The goal of is to convey the essential message of the importance of individual responsibility in the establishment of a civil and democratic society, in addition to stimulating a discussion around the principle that responsible behavior in society is the essential ingredient to reaching rapid and positive change in society.

The “Declaration of Human Responsibilities,” prepared by Hawrylyshyn, is not only a legacy, but a “living project” that continues to inform and inspire both individuals and those that make up the greater society as to how to develop the essence of a free and democratic society. There are more than1500 alumni of the program, among whom are members of Parliament, holders of executive offices at all levels of government throughout the country, civil society activists, and media.

These fundamental tenets are as follows:

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 that 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 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.

Source: Kyiv Post


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