Country Governance

Tip: Enter a search term (word or phrase, as in Google) and press ENTER or click the search button

Skip Navigation LinksPOGAR > Countries > Country Theme: Constitution: Iraq
You may also

Historical Background

The Iraqi constitution that was approved by public referendum on October 15, 2005 states that the Republic of Iraq is an independent, sovereign nation, and its system of governance is democratic, federal, and representative (parliamentary). Islam is the official religion of the state and is a basic source of legislation. Iraq is part of the Arab nation and the Islamic world. The Arabic and Kurdish are the two official languages for Iraq. The law is sovereign; the people are the source of authority and legitimacy, which they exercise through direct, secret ballot and its constitutional institutions. Transfer of power is carried out peacefully through the democratic means stipulated in the constitution. The constitution comes into effect with the elections of the Council of Representatives as stipulated by the constitution and scheduled for December 15, 2005.

Top of this page

Separation of Executive, Legislative, and Judicial Powers

The president of the republic is the head of state and the symbol of the nation's unity and represents the sovereignty of the country and overseas the guarantees of adherence to the constitution, the preservation of Iraq's independence, unity and the security of its territory in accordance to the law. The candidate for the president's post must be Iraqi by birth from Iraqi parents, legally competent and have reached the age of 40. The Council of Representatives elects a list consisting of candidates for the president of the republic and two vice-presidents by two-third majority, and together they constitute the "Presidential Council". If no single candidate gets the required majority, the two candidates with the highest votes are to compete and whoever wins a majority of votes in the second round is declared president of the republic. The term of the president of the republic is limited to 4 years and he may be re-elected for a second term. Article 135 stipulates that the presidential council exercises all presidential authority accorded in previous articles of the constitution and that the council must act unanimously.

The president of the republic (the presidential council) enjoys the following powers: (a) issuing special amnesty upon a recommendation from the prime minister, except those convicted in international crimes, terrorism, financial or administrative corruption, (b) endorsing treaties and international conventions following approval by the Council of Representatives. The endorsement is considered effective 15 days after being received by the president, (c) endorsing and issuing laws enacted by the Council of Representatives. Such laws become effective 15 days after being received by the president, (d) endorsing execution verdicts issued by the proper courts.

The president of the republic (the presidential council) asks the candidate nominated by the parliamentary majority to form the cabinet within 15 days following the convening of the first session of Council of Representatives. The president asks another candidate to form the government if the first candidate fails in this endeavor, or if the cabinet does not win the parliament's confidence. The prime minister should meet the same conditions required of a president, should be a university graduate and should be at least 35 years old. The prime minister is the executive responsible for the state's public policy. He is the commander in chief of the armed forces, and he has the right to dismiss cabinet members upon the approval of the parliament.

Top of this page

Main Provisions

A vice-president replaces the president in his absence and when the post is vacant for any reason. The speaker of the parliament replaces the president if there is no vice-president, and a new president should be elected within 30 days of vacancy.

The council of ministers exercises the following powers: planning and implementing the general policy of the state and public plans; supervising the work of government ministries and of agencies not associated with any ministry; proposing draft laws; preparing the draft budget, final audit and development plans; and negotiating treaties and international agreements and signing them or designating someone to sign.

The Council of Representatives has the power to approve declaring war and imposing emergency rule by two-thirds majority upon a joint request by the president and the prime minister. A state of emergency may be declared for 30 days, renewable by approval. In such cases the parliament gives the prime minister the powers needed to run the affairs of the state during the crisis period, provided that these powers are exercised by law in accordance with the constitution.

Article 109 of the constitution stipulates that oil and gas are the property of all Iraqis in all regions and provinces. Article 110 stipulates that the federal government is to manage oil and gas extracted from the current fields jointly with the governments of the regions and provinces which produce oil and gas, and distribute the revenues in a fair manner according to the population distribution all over the country, and allocating a share for a specified period to regions that were deprived of that wealth by the previous regime and suffered as a result, in a way that guaranteed balanced development of various regions to be organized by law.

Top of this page

Civil Rights

The constitution states that Iraqis are equal before the law without discrimination based on sex, race, ethnicity, origin, colour, religion, sect, belief, opinion, social or economic status. Every individual has the right to life, security and freedom. Equal opportunity is a right guaranteed to all Iraqis, and the state shall take the necessary steps to achieve this. Each person has the right to personal privacy as long as it does not violate the rights of others and public morality. The sanctity of home is protected. Homes cannot be entered, searched or violated except by judicial decision. Work is a right for all Iraqis in a way that guarantees them a good life. The Iraqi parliament unanimously approved on January 12, 2008 the draft law of "Accountability and Justice". The new law replaces the Baath Uprooting" law and allows the return of Baathists to their jobs in government institutions and in the army.

The state guarantees the right of citizens to establish and belong to syndicates and trade unions. All citizens, men and women, have the right to participate in public affairs and enjoy political rights including the right to vote and run for office.

Private property is protected and the owner has the right to use it, exploit it and benefit from it within the boundaries of the law. An Iraqi has the right to ownership anywhere in Iraq. Public funds are sacrosanct and their protection is the duty of every citizen. Low-income persons are exempted from taxes in a way that guarantees maintaining minimum living standard.

The state guarantees the protection of motherhood, childhood and the elderly. Economic exploiting of children in any form is banned. The state guarantees social security and health insurance for individuals and families. Education is mandatory at the elementary cycle. Free education is guaranteed for all Iraqis at all educational levels. Private education is guaranteed and regulated by law.

It is forbidden to withdraw Iraqi citizenship from an Iraqi by birth for any reason. It could be withdrawn from naturalized citizens in cases specified by law. Possessing more than one citizenship is permitted. However, Iraqis who occupy high level political or security posts must give up any other citizenship. Iraqi citizenship may not be granted for the purposes of population settlement that disrupts the demographic makeup of Iraq.

The state guarantees, as long as it does not violate public order and morality, freedom of expression by all means; freedom of the press, printing, advertising, information and publishing; freedom of assembly and peaceful protest rallies. Freedom to establish and belong to political organizations and parties is guaranteed and regulated by law. Every individual has freedom of thought, conscience and ideology. The state guarantees the right to worship and protects the places of worship. Every Iraqi has the right to move, travel and reside inside and outside Iraq. Iraqis cannot be deported, sent into exile or prevented from returning to their country.

Top of this page

Constitutional Court

The Supreme Federal Court is a financially and administratively independent judicial body that is to oversee the constitutionality of federal laws before they are enacted, to interpret the constitution, and to rule in cases that emerge from the implementation of federal laws or of disputes between the federal government and that of a region or province or among the latter. Its composition of judges and experts in Sharia is to be defined by law passed by a two-thirds majority.

Top of this page

Constitutional Amendments and Procedures

The president (presidential council) and the prime minister together, or one-fifth of the parliament may propose amending the constitution. However, basic principles and freedoms cannot be amended before two consecutive parliamentary sessions, and have to be approved by two-thirds parliamentary majority and by public referendum and ratification by the president of the republic within 7 days.

Top of this page