Establishment of Ukraine's modern foreign service is connected to the creation of independent state and proclamation of the 1st Universal of the Ukrainian Central Council on June 10, 1917. The process of formation of independent legislative and executive authorities led to the 2nd Universal of the Ukrainian Central Council on July 16, 1917, which envisaged establishment of the General Secretariat - an executive authority. Since the first day of its existence, the General Secretariat of International Affairs started its work within the General Secretariat. The General Secretariat of International Affairs became a predecessor of the first Ukrainian foreign service of the Twentieth century.
Volodymyr Vynnytchenko, the Head of General Secretariat of the Ukrainian People's Republic (which was proclaimed by the 3rd Universal of the Ukrainian Central Council on November 7, 1917), and Oleksandr Shulhyn, the Secretary General for Foreign Affairs, signed a draft "Law on Establishment of the General Secretariat of Foreign Affairs" on December 22, 1917, which was at the same day approved at a meeting of the Government of the Ukrainian People's Republic (UPR).
In accordance with the approved document, the duties of the General Secretariat of Foreign Affairs included conducting state foreign affairs, protection of interests of Ukrainian citizens beyond the borders of UPR, and settlement of ethnic misunderstandings within UPR (temporarily).
The 4th Universal of the Ukrainian Central Council on January 12, 1918 proclaimed UNR "a self-dependent, totally independent, free, sovereign state of the Ukrainian people".
At that time the Government of Ukraine initiated work on establishment of a network of diplomatic and consular missions, which activity was guided by state laws and regulations of the General Secretariat of Foreign Affairs (later on - the Ministry of Foreign Affairs). A relevant legal base of diplomacy was established as well - thus, in spring of 1918 the staff of Ukrainian Foreign Ministry drafted the Law on UPR's foreign missions; diplomatic staff was being trained - Consular courses under the Ukrainian Economic Association were to begin their work since March-April 1918.
Establishment of contacts with countries of the world was initiated during the work of the Ukrainian Central Council. Thus, in December 1917 the Ukrainian government established ties with the Entente countries by receiving representatives of France ("General Commissioner of France to the Government of Ukraine") and Great Britain ("Representative of Great Britain").
At the end of December 1917 the Ukrainian delegation participated in peace negotiations at Brest, where the first peace treaty in WW I was signed among UPR and Germany, Austro-Hungary, Turkey and Bulgaria.
When Pavlo Skoropadsky, the Hetman of Ukrainian State, came to power on April 28, 1918, the Ukrainian Government continued development of national Foreign Service.
Historians evidence that three main directions of foreign policy of the Ukrainian State were established, namely "establishment of friendly relations with the countries of the Quadruple Union, settlement of territorial disputes with the neighboring countries and establishment of diplomatic relations with neutral states".
The circle of countries, with which diplomatic relations were established, grew under Hetman's rule. Thus, the Ukrainian State sent its diplomatic missions to Romania, Finland, Switzerland, Sweden (a total of 10 states), and received more than two dozens of plenipotentiary representatives (Austro-Hungary, Bulgaria, Georgia, Germany, Turkey, Poland, Romania, Finland and others).
The Government of Ukrainian State also formed a separate delegation for peace talks with Russia. The negotiations with Russian delegation took place in Kyiv in May-October 1918. The delegation of Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, headed by Christian Rakovsky and Dmytro Manuilsky, also served as temporary diplomatic mission to the Ukrainian State.
When Dmytro Doroshenko replaced Mykola Vasilenko as the Minister for Foreign Affairs, several important steps were made to improve the structure of Ukrainian Foreign Ministry and legal base of foreign policy. The Law on Embassies and Missions of the Ukrainian State was passed in June 1918, and the Law on Ukrainian Consular Service was passed in July 1918. First national Consular Courses started their work under Hetman's government. They were created as educational establishment for training diplomatic and consular specialists for the state.
When the second republican government (the Directory) seized power from the Hetman in December 1918, diplomatic contacts of previous Ukrainian governments were preserved to a considerable extent, and sometimes even broadened.
In particular, the Directory (the first Foreign Minister of which was Volodymir Chehivsky) sent several diplomatic missions to such countries as Belgium, Great Britain, Greece, Italy, the USA and others. Embassies were opened in Estonia, Latvia, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and other countries. Under the Directory, the Ukrainian State was represented in Vatican as well. A separate delegation of UPR participated in Paris Peace conference, at the same time being a temporary diplomatic mission of Ukraine to France.
The main goal of Ukrainian diplomatic missions and special delegations was to gain recognition of Ukraine and achieve international support in nation building. UPR's diplomatic missions conducted broad informational and publishing work regarding Ukraine, as well as performed basic consular functions. Return of Ukrainian POWs was organized in countries where they were held, and military/medical missions for POWs were established in Berlin, Vienna and Rome.
Conducting meetings of ambassadors and heads of diplomatic missions became customary under the Directory, the most important of them were held in Carlsbad in 1919 and in Vienna in 1920.
Foreign policy of the Western Ukrainian People's Republic (WUPR) became an important page of the history of Ukrainian diplomacy.
An armed revolt in Lviv resulted in seizure of power by the National Council on November 1, 1918. On November 13 it adopted a temporary Organic Law on Independence of the Ukrainian Lands that Used to Be a Part of Former Austro-Hungary and Establishment of an Independent State.
WUPR's foreign policy mostly consisted of two key directions: relations with Dnipro-based UPR and the Entente countries.
Being guided by historical unification of Ukrainian lands into a single state, the representatives of both governments proclaimed the Act of Unification of UPR and WUPR on January 22, 1919.
The government of WUPR established broad diplomatic contacts, having opened its own missions in Austria, Italy, Germany, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia. Special missions were sent to the countries where considerable numbers of Ukrainian emigrants lived - to Canada, the USA and Brazil.
In July 1919 the government of WUPR sent a separate delegation to Paris peace talks, where WUPR's representatives worked together with UPR's diplomatic mission.
Establishment of state bodies of soviet Ukraine took place simultaneously with state-building processes conducted by the governments of UPR, Hetman state and WUPR).
Due to this, the Ukrainian Socialistic Radyanska (Soviet) Republic (USRR) was officially proclaimed in January 1919. Since the very beginning of establishment of administrative bodies of Soviet Ukraine, its "foreign policy functions" were trusted, to a certain extent, with the People's Secretariat of Interethnic Affairs, which later on was turned into the People's Secretariat of International Affairs, headed by Volodymir Zatonsky.
The Council of People's Commissars of USRR was established in January 1919. It was headed by Christian Rakovsky, who at the same time became the head of foreign policy body of Soviet Ukraine, replacing Mykola Skrypnyk.
A network of own diplomatic missions was created by the government of USRR. Thus, USRR was represented in Warsaw, Berlin and Prague. Speaking about foreign representatives to USRR, we can mention representatives of Poland, Austria, Germany and Czechoslovakia, who performed mostly trade-related and consular services.
At that time, the actions of People's Commissariat of Foreign Affairs (PCFA) of USRR was mostly aimed at development of diplomatic relations with other states, improvement of internal legislation within the competence of Commissariat and maintaining contacts with representations of foreign states in USRR.
However, the situation changed when the Union of Soviet Socialistic Republics was established in December 1922. All foreign political, economic and trade ties of Ukraine soon fell within the competence of Union's center, thus depriving USRR of its right to conduct own foreign policy.
On October 22, 1922 the Central Committee of Communist Party (Bolshevik) of Ukraine (CP(B)U) approved Decision "On Dismissal of the Apparatus of People's Commissariat of Foreign Affairs of USRR". Its authorities were transferred to the Union's People's Commissariat. Despite active attempts of Ch. Rakovsky, People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs of that time, to oppose this decision (upon his initiative on March 23, 1923 an appeal of CP(B)U to the Politburo of RCP(B) was approved with a request to revise the decision on merging PCFAs of Ukraine and the USSR), PCFA of USRR was officially dismissed on September 20, 1923. At the same time, due to emphatic efforts of Ukrainian leaders of that time, Ukrainian representatives, appointed by the government of USRR and later on - of USSR, worked at Soviet embassies from 1923 until 1936.
The Session of Supreme Council of USSR adopted the Law "On Delegating Authority in the Field of Foreign Affairs to Union's Republics and Transformation of People's Commissariat of Foreign Affairs from All-Union into a Union-Republican People's Commissariat as a Result of This" on February 1, 1944. This act, in fact, restored the rights of Union's republics in the field of foreign policy after twenty-year break.
Already on February 5, 1944 resolutions of Politburo of Central Committee of CP(B)U and decrees of the Presidium of Verkhovna Rada on establishment of PCFA of USRR were adopted.
Ukraine's international actions in 1944-1990 was mostly concentrated at UN participation and work at other international organizations. This made it possible to inform the global community about Ukraine's life and to be involved into discussion of global and regional problems as well as introduce own proposals.
Ukraine, as a UN Charter member, participated in its elaboration, as well as in formation of its structure, bodies and authorities.
USRR's delegation actively participated in UN work since the very beginning of its existence. Ukrainian representatives supported strengthening of peace and development of international cooperation. Ukraine's delegation put forward many proposals regarding the Charter and other UN documents, including those dealing with the text of Charter itself, the Provisional Rules (Rule 73) of Procedure of UN General Assembly, draft Resolution on Establishment of Commission on Investigation of Situation in Indonesia (February 11, 1946), refugees and migrants, displaced persons, representation of non-governmental organizations at UN Economic and Social Council, Danube Conference etc.
Since 1945 Ukraine is a member of International Court of Justice, it became a member of World Health Organization (1946), Universal Postal Union (1947), World Meteorological Organizations (1948), International Labor Organization (1954), UNESCO (1954), Economic Commission for Europe (1956) and IAEA (1957).
USRR and Ukraine was elected as a non-permanent UN Security Council Member three times (in 1948/49, 1984/85 and 2000/01). It was UN ECOSOC member four times and also many times was a member of ILO Administrative Council, UNEP Board, IAEA Board and Committee on the Elimination of Combat Against Apartheid and Implementation of Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.
USRR, having taken a relevant place in many international organizations, conducted active policy of protection of human rights, disarmament and protection of peace. Thus, 22 proposals were put forward in the 1950's, 18 proposals in 1960/61 and 202 in the period from 1962 to 1970 during discussion of documents at international organizations and conferences. In 1971-1990 the number of proposals was not smaller. Ukrainian initiatives to proclaim International Year of Medical Research, combat global illiteracy and assistance in training staff for accelerated industrialization of developing countries should be mentioned.
The problems, which were considered by UN with Ukraine's participation before it gained independence, included prohibition of chemical weapons, non-use of force, non-militarizing of space, elimination of remains of colonialism and prohibition of mercenaries. In 1990, at UN General Assembly's 45th Session, 126 countries adopted the Resolution on International Cooperation to Eliminate the Consequences of Chernobyl Disaster.
In 1945-1990 the participation of Ukraine and Byelorussia in international organizations, firstly the UN, was guided from Moscow. At the same time, Ukrainian diplomats, while being members of Soviet diplomacy, were trained using the best traditions of world diplomacy as well. The evidence of their high professionalism is the fact that Ukrainian representatives took high posts at UN and other international organizations. Thus, D. Manuilsky was elected the Chairman of UN Security Council in 1948/49, P. Nedbaylo was the First Vice President of 21st Session of UN Human Rights Committee in 1965, G. Shevel' was the Vice President of UN General Assembly in 1970, V. Martynenko was the Vice President of UN ECOSOC's Committee on Social Issues in 1977 and the Vice President of 36th Session of UN General Assembly in 1981, V. Kravets was the Chairman of UN Security Council in 1984 and G. Udovenko was the Chairman of UN Security Council in 1985, Yu. Kochubey was the Deputy to UNESCO Director General in 1987-1992. Many Ukrainian diplomats worked at various posts at UN Secretariat and working bodies of other international organizations.
A new era of development of national foreign policy agency started on July 16, 1990, when the Verkhovna Rada of USRR adopted the Declaration of State Sovereignty of Ukraine. The Declaration stated that Ukraine "as a subject of international law shall conduct direct relations with other states, conclude agreements with them, exchange diplomatic, consular and trade missions, participate in activities of international organizations:" Ukraine "shall act as an equal participant of international relations, actively promote strengthening of universal peace and international security, directly participate in all-European process and European bodies". After the historic Act of Independence of Ukraine was adopted on August 24, 1991, the national Ministry of Foreign Affairs faced new important tasks that required new professional approaches, reforms of Foreign Ministry's structure and establishment of a relevant legal base. As "The Basic Directions of Ukraine's Foreign Policy", approved July 2, 1993, state, "due to its geopolitical location, historical experience, cultural traditions, rich natural resources, powerful economic, scientific/technical and intellectual potential, Ukraine ought to and should become an influential global state capable of playing a considerable role in providing political/economic stability in Europe. Active and full-scale accession to the global community is an inalienable condition of successful realization of Ukraine's possibilities. Overcoming crisis in society and proceeding along the path towards the world, Ukraine is guided by its fundamental national interests, in accordance to which the grounds, directions, priorities and functions of its foreign policy are determined". While implementing the goals set, Ukraine gained a status of authoritative, ponderable, consistent and active participant of international relations in less then nine years of its independence. Nowadays Ukraine is a non-permanent member of UN Security Council, member of more than a hundred international organizations, initiator of GUUAM - an informal association of states, which also includes Georgia, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Moldova, one of initiators of Organization of Black Sea Economic Cooperation, security contributor to South-Eastern Europe, Transdniesteria and Caucasus. Ukraine is recognized as a strategic and special partner of EU and NATO, it actively participates in European and Baltic/Black Sea integration processes. Ukraine has established diplomatic relations with 166 countries of the world, it possesses a broad network of diplomatic and consular missions (80 missions in 60 countries). Ukraine has concluded and is fulfilling more than two thousand international legal documents.
Ukraine's foreign policy is regulated by many ground-laying national legal documents, the most important of them being:
According to Article 106 of the Constitution of Ukraine, the President of Ukraine heads foreign policy of Ukraine, who represents the country in international relations, conducts negotiations and concludes international treaties of Ukraine, makes decisions on recognition of foreign states, assigns and dismisses the heads of diplomatic missions of Ukraine to foreign states and international organizations, accepts letters of credence of diplomatic representatives of foreign states.
According to the Decree of President of Ukraine "On Provisions on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine" dated April 3, 1999, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine is a central executive authority of Ukraine that conducts foreign policy of the state and coordinates the activities in the field of external relations in accordance with authorities delegated to it.
According to the Decree, the main tasks of the Foreign Ministry of Ukraine are "participation in securing the national interests and security of Ukraine through maintaining peaceful and mutually beneficial cooperation with the members of international community, promoting stability of Ukraine's international position, raising its international authority, spreading throughout the world Ukraine's image as a reliable and ponderable partner, creation of favorable external conditions for strengthening independence, state sovereignty, economic self-dependence and preserving territorial integrity of Ukraine, ensuring integrity and coordination of Ukraine's foreign policy according to delegated authorities, protection of rights and interests of citizens and legal entities of Ukraine abroad, promotion of development of ties with foreign Ukrainian communities and providing such citizens support and protection according to the norms of international law and current legislation of Ukraine".
Minister for Foreign Affairs (September 2, 2003 - February 3, 2005)
On 21 March 2007 the Verkhovna Rada (Parliament) of Ukraine approved Mr. Arseniy YATSENYUK to the post of Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine.