Constitution of the Federal Republic of Iraq




It may be said that the new Iraqi state from the time of its creation following World War I has not enjoyed peace and security. To a great extent, this goes back to a fault in its constitutional makeup and the nature of its political system. The basic law of 1925, which was the constitutional make up of the new state of Iraq, up to the constitution of July 16, 1970, were characterized by a high degree of centralization.


Centralization in government has lost its appeal even within simple and homogenous communities. It has especially lost its rationale for being resorted to in communities that are of a pluralist nature made up of various nationalities, religious groups and languages, such as the Iraqi community. This high degree of centralization and the indifference of decision makers to the presence of the special characteristics of the Kurdish people are among the basic reasons for the Kurds being deprived of their legitimate rights under the successive Iraqi governments, which came to power under both the monarchy and the republic. This style of restricting authority in the centre and the unwillingness to share it with the Kurds on a practical basis, even after the March 11, 1970 autonomy agreement, has been the hallmark of the role of the Iraqi state.


In light of the past painful experiences that have continued since the establishment of the new Iraqi State in 1921 until the present time, which has resulted in a great loss to Iraqis in terms of life and property, and opportunity for progress, it is necessary to put an end to this constitutional disorder by changing the structure of the Iraqi state and the nature of its political system from a unitary state based on total centralization to a federal system based on federalism and the division of powers among the federal government and the regional ones in a manner that would be more consistent with the pluralist nature of the Iraqi community made up of the two primary nationalities, Arabs and Kurds, in addition to other national minorities present among the population. We are encouraged in this by the successful experiment of other countries such as the United States of America, Switzerland, Canada, Belgium, India and others, which have successfully adopted the federal system. We have thus seen that federalism is the most appropriate system of government for Iraq as it is consistent with the pluralist nature of the Iraqi community and it is a suitable basis for solving the Kurdish problem in Iraq. It affords the Kurdish people the enjoyment of their legitimate national rights and internal independence within the region of Kurdistan and within the framework of a single Iraqi state and without disrupting the unity of that state. This will also safeguard Iraq’s existence, as it will contribute to Iraq’s national unity and deepening of Arab and Kurdish brotherhood, something that will put an end to the concerns of Iraq being divided up.


Federalism and democracy are inseparable concepts because federalism cannot grow and prosper in the shadow of any dictatorial, authoritarian system; therefore, the implementation of a democratic system is made urgent an indispensable for a federal Iraq. For the purpose of the embodiment and entrenchment of democracy in that country, the basic requirements of democracy must be present. Democracy requires democratic freedoms including that of expression, belief, organization, assembly, and others. It assumes that power can be transferred peacefully through the holding of free elections at the ballot box. It recognizes the principles of a multi-party system and the concept of an opposition. It consolidates the principles of the separation of powers and protects the independence of the judiciary by giving it the last word in settlement of constitutional disagreements that may occur between the federal government and the regional government or between the institutions of the federal government itself and this in turn will consolidate the rule of law.


We must emphasize that democracy in Iraq will not be complete without giving women their full rights and providing the necessary opportunities for them to practice their historic role in the development process and in forwarding the Iraqi people in various fields which cannot be realized without recognition of their equality with men under the law and in their rights and duties.


In order to strengthen national loyalty and to deepen social harmony, national religious tolerance must be recognized and human rights and freedoms of the individual must be respected in accordance with the provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other related international treaties and conventions. The various civil institutions of the community must be allowed to practice their necessary role in development and progress. Violence and extremism must be abandoned while combating terrorism in all its forms. All of this will give further strength and immunity to the state founded on a democratic, parliamentarian, federal system and will enable it to reach a level of compatibility and national development as it moves away from violence and extremism and avoids internal conflict which is something that will enable it to play its positive role in the Arab region, and the regional and the international domains.


With belief in the principles mentioned above and for the sake of establishing a federal, democratic, parliamentarian, pluralistic Iraq that will enjoy peace and security and belief in the principles of equality, justice and equal opportunity and respect of human rights of the individual, characterized by national and religious tolerance and the brotherhood of Arabs and Kurds and other nationalities, we hereby promulgate this Constitution.




Article 1:


Iraq is a federal state with a democratic, parliamentarian, pluralistic, republican system that will be called the Federal Republic of Iraq.


Article 2:


The Federal Republic of Iraq consists of two regions:


i) The Arabic Region that includes the middle and southern regions of Iraq along with the Province of Ninevah in the north excepting the districts and sub-districts that have a Kurdish majority as mentioned in the item below.


ii) The Kurdish Region that includes the Provinces of Kirkuk, Sulaimaniyah and Erbil within their administrative boundaries before 1970 and the Province of Duhok and the districts of Aqra, Sheihkan, Sinjar and the sub-district of Zimar in the Province of Ninevah and the districts of Khaniqin and Mandali in the Province of Diyala and the district of Badra in the Province of Al-Wasit.


Article 3:


Power is inherent in the people as they are the source of its legitimacy.


Article 4:


The people of Iraq consist of the two principal Arabic and Kurdish nationalities and this Constitution affirms the national rights of the Kurdish people and their enjoyment of them within the Kurdistan Region based on federalism as it also affirms the legitimate rights of the minorities within the framework of the Federal Republic of Iraq.


Article 5:


Baghdad shall be the capitol of the Federal Republic of Iraq.


Article 6:


The Federal Republic of Iraq shall have a flag, an emblem, and a national anthem that shall reflect the union between the Kurds and the Arabs and that shall be regulated by law.


Article 7:


The state religion is Islam.


Article 8:


Arabic is the official language of the federal state and the Arab region. Kurdish shall be the official language of the Kurdistan Region.



Article 9:


i) Citizens are equal under the law without discrimination due to sex, race, color, language, religion, or ethnic origin.


ii) All are guaranteed equal opportunity under the law.


Article 10:


The family unit is the foundation of the community, the protection and support of which is guaranteed by the state. Mothers and children are also afforded protection under the law. The law upholds the basic moral and ethical values of the community among its citizens.


Article 11:


i) An accused person is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.


ii) The right to legal defence is guaranteed at all stages of an investigation and trial in accordance with the law.


iii) Trial proceedings must be open unless otherwise declared closed by the court.


iv) Punishment is personal. Nothing can be treated as a crime, nor can any punishment be ordered and carried out unless defined in the law. No act is punishable unless it is considered to be a crime at the time of commission. No punishment can be administered that is greater than what is written in the law.


Article 12:


i) The integrity of the individual shall be protected and all types of torture, physical or psychological, are prohibited.


ii) No one can be captured, detained, jailed, or searched except in circumstances defined in law.


iii) The sanctity of the home shall be protected and cannot be entered or searched except in accordance with procedures laid out in the law.


Article 13:


The privacy of postal, cable and telephone communications is guaranteed and cannot be disclosed except when deemed necessary to serve the needs of justice and security in accordance with the parameters and procedures laid out in the law.


Article 14:


A citizen cannot be prevented from travelling abroad or outside the country nor prevented from returning home to the country. Movements within the country shall not be restricted unless specified in the law.


Article 15:


Freedom of religion, belief, and the practice of religious duties is guaranteed provided they do not conflict with provisions of this Constitution and the Regional Constitutions or with federal laws and provided they do not go against general moral and ethical standards.


Article 16:


Primary education is compulsory. The federal and regional governments shall combat illiteracy, guarantee for their citizens the right to a free education in all its stages of primary, secondary, and university, and guarantee the development of technical and vocational studies.


Article 17:


The right of academic research shall be guaranteed. Outstanding achievement, innovation and creativity shall be encouraged and rewarded.


Article 18:


Freedom of expression, publication, printing, press, assembly, demonstration, and forming of political parties, unions and associations shall be guaranteed by law.


Article 19:


The right to political asylum for all those persecuted because of their political beliefs shall be guaranteed. Political refugees shall not be extradited.


Article 20:


i) Work is a right and duty of every citizen and the federal and regional governments shall make efforts to create work opportunities for every capable citizen.


ii) The state shall guarantee good working conditions, work towards raising the standard of living as well as the skills and knowledge of all working individuals. The state shall provide social security benefits in cases of illness, disability, unemployment, or old age.


iii) No individual shall be forced to carry out a job unless the purpose is to carry out a public service according to the law or in the case of emergency or natural disaster.


Article 21:


The state and regional governments shall guarantee the right of ownership and this shall be regulated by law.


Article 22:


The state guarantees to protect public health through consistent efforts to provide medical services in the fields of prevention, treatment and medication.


Article 23:


Paying taxes is a duty of every citizen and such taxes shall not be levied, collected or amended except by law.


Article 24:


Citizens have the guaranteed right to raise complaints and write petitions to the proper authorities and the authorities shall consider these within a reasonable period of time.


Article 25:


The judiciary is the source of the protection of rights mentioned in this part. The Courts will decide what punishment and/or fine is warranted from any of the parties concerned.





Article 26:


The federal legislative authority, the “federal parliament”, is made up of two chambers—the National Assembly (Chamber of Deputies) and the Assembly of the Regions.


Section 1 - National Assembly


Article 27:


i) The National Assembly is made up of representatives of the people within the two regions elected through direct, secret, general ballot as regulated by law.


ii) Each citizen, 18 years of age or older, of sound mind and in good standing in the community has the right to vote.


iii) Each citizen, 25 years of age or older, of sound mind and in good standing in the community has the right to stand for election to the National Assembly.


Article 28:


The Federal Parliament has a five-year term commencing with the holding of its first session.


Article 29:


The electoral process and its procedures shall be regulated by law.


Article 30:


i) No individual can hold a position in the National Assembly, the Assembly of the Regions, the Regional Parliament, or the local municipal and administrative councils, at the same time.


ii) A member of the National Assembly cannot hold another public position or office at the same time.


iii) A member of the National Assembly shall be considered to have resigned from any public position or office from the date that he/she swears the oath of office.


Article 31:


The National Assembly shall hold its first session presided over by the oldest member. A president, vice president and secretary shall be elected from among its members through secret ballot.


Article 32:


The National Assembly can meet with the presence of a simple majority of members present. Votes are also by simple majority.


Section 2 - The Assembly of the Regions


Article 33:


The Assembly of the Regions is made up from representatives from each of the Arab and Kurdistan regions provided that the principle of equal representation is upheld.


Article 34:


Each region evaluates the performance and can dismiss its representatives in accordance with the methods specified in the Regional Constitution and/or law.


Article 35:


The Assembly of the Regions participates on an equal footing with the National Assembly in the practice of the federal legislative authority.



Article 36:


The Federal Parliament shall have the following authorities:


i) Declare war and conclude peace where a 2/3 majority will be required


ii) Amend the Federal Constitution


iii) Ratify international treaties and agreements where a 2/3 majority will be required


iv) Enact federal legislation


v) Vote of confidence in the federal cabinet and its members as well as withdrawal of such confidence


vi) Approve the federal budget


vii) Levy, regulate, and abolish taxes and duties


viii) Supervise the work of the federal executive authority


ix) Draft internal rules and procedures for personnel and staffing, determine positions, appoint staff, determine salaries, and approve the budget of the Federal Parliament


x) Look into and verify the membership in the National Assembly and the formation of the committees.



Section 1 - President of the Federal Republic of Iraq


Article 37:


The President of the Federal Republic of Iraq is the head of state and the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.


Article 38:


The President shall be elected through direct, general, secret ballot for a period of five years and may stand for re-election once.


Article 39:


All candidates for President shall be:


i) an Iraqi citizen whose parents must both have been born in Iraq


ii) at least 40 years of age


iii) a citizen in good standing in both his/her civil and political rights


Article 40:


The President of the Federal Republic of Iraq shall take the following oath of office in the presence of a joint session of the Federal Parliament:


“I swear, by God Almighty, to respect the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Iraq, to defend the independence and sovereignty of the country, and to work diligently for the realization of the interests of the people, freedom and honor.”


Article 41:


In the case of the resignation, demise, or inability to perform the duties of the President of the Republic of Iraq, his/her deputy shall take over the duties of the presidency for the remainder of the term of office.


Article 42:


The President of the Federal Republic of Iraq represents the federal state abroad and concludes treaties in its names and acknowledges and receives foreign diplomats and missions.


Article 43:


The President of the Federal Republic of Iraq shall assume the following duties and responsibilities:


i) Protecting the independence and territorial integrity, and the internal and external security of the Federal Republic of Iraq


ii) Appointing the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Iraq after having been nominated by the Assembly of the Regions


iii) Announcing the federal cabinet after it has won a vote of confidence from the National Assembly


iv) Calling general elections for the National Assembly


v) Proclaiming federal legislation


vi) Appointing Iraqi diplomats and representatives to Arab and other foreign countries and to international organizations and conferences


vii) Instructing the Armed Forces and Internal Security in accordance with national interests


viii) Declaring states of emergency, which shall be regulated by law


ix) Conferring military ranks on members of the Armed Forces and the Internal Security as well as dismissing or retiring members from those services


x) Conferring medals or awards


xi) Appointing individuals of special ranks such as those in the judiciary, the chief prosecutor, general prosecutor and the deputies in the federal state


Article 44:


The President of the Republic of Iraq shall be indicted by a 2/3 majority of the Federal Parliament and shall be put on trial in a joint session of the High Court and the Assembly of the Regions presided over by the President of the High Court and any sentence passed must be by a 2/3 majority.


Article 45:


The President of the Republic of Iraq shall remain in office carrying out his/her duties during the period of his/her indictment and trial.


Section 2 - Council of Ministers (Cabinet)


Article 46:


The Council of Ministers constitutes the highest executive authority in the Federal Republic of Iraq and practises its responsibilities under the supervision and guidance of the President of the Republic of Iraq.


Article 47:


The Council of Ministers shall be made up the prime minister, his/her deputies and a number of ministers who shall represent both regions in proportion to the regions populations.


Article 48:


Upon the election of the President of the Republic of Iraq from one region, the Prime Minister shall be appointed from the other.


Article 49:


i) The Prime Minister designate shall submit the names of his/her cabinet to the President of the Republic of Iraq for his/her approval.


ii) Following approval by the President, the Prime Minister designate shall introduce his/her cabinet to both the National Assembly and the Assembly of the Regions for a vote of confidence following which the President shall issue the necessary decree for the formation of the cabinet.


Article 50:


The Council of Ministers shall assume the following responsibilities:


i) Carrying out federal legislation


ii) Protecting the safety and security of the land


iii) Preparing federal draft legislation and submitting it to the Federal Parliament


iv) Preparing the federal budget


v) Supervising the federal ministries, institutions and public agencies


vi) Issuing federal orders and regulations


vii) Concluding loans, grants and supervising financial affairs


viii) Appointing, promoting, and retiring federal civil servants


Article 51:


The President of the Republic of Iraq may chair meetings of the Council of Ministers and request special performance reports from the Council and the Ministries.


Article 52:


i) The Federal Parliament may withdraw confidence from


a. The cabinet and it shall be considered no longer in office from the date of the withdrawal of confidence;


b. A minister and he/she shall be considered no longer in office from the date of the withdrawal of confidence.


ii) The cabinet shall continue in office until a new cabinet is formed.



Article 53:


The High Court shall consist of a number of members, persons of high integrity, qualifications, and experience, chosen from among the judiciary and law professors teaching at universities who have had at least 20 years of practice or teaching and each region shall designate half of the members of the Court.


Article 54:


The President of the High Court shall be on a rotational basis. Each member shall assume the presidency for a period of one year at a time.

Article 55:


Members of the High Court cannot be dismissed except in the case of indictment due to lack of integrity. Their indictment, trial and sentencing shall be carried out by the Assembly of the Regions.


Article 56:


Members of the High Court shall not be retired due to age unless there is a personal request to that effect.


Article 57:


The High Court shall look into and adjudicate the following:


i) Interpretation of the Constitution with regard to conflicts that arise in relation to the rights and duties of the federal institutions or conflicts within the various authorities;


ii) Conflicts arising out of the implementation of the Constitution between the federal and regional levels;


iii) Conflicts that arise out of the implementation of the Constitution or those that may occur among the regions.


Article 58:


The High Court shall issue its decisions on a simple majority basis and, in the case of an even split, the President of the High Court shall decide.



Article 59:


The federal government shall assume the following responsibilities:


i) Declaring war and concluding peace


ii) Setting out foreign policy and diplomatic and consular representations


iii) Concluding international treaties and agreements


iv) Defending the country by utilizing all branches of the Armed Forces


v) Issuing currency and planning monetary and banking policy


vi) Defining standards for weights and measures and designating salary policy


vii) Drafting general economic planning aimed at development in the regions in the areas of industry, commerce and agriculture


viii) Ordering federal general audits


ix) Overseeing federal security affairs


x) Citizenship, residency and foreigners’ affairs


xi) Oil resources


xii) Nuclear power



Article 60:


Each region shall draw up its own constitution taking into consideration the following:


i) Shall adopt the republican system


ii) shall not contradict the terms of this Constitution


Article 61:


Citizens of the region shall, through direct, general and secret ballot, elect their representatives to the Regional Assembly, the “Regional Parliament,” and the electoral process and ratio of representation shall be regulated by a law.


Article 62:


The responsibilities of the Regional Assembly and its relation with other authorities shall be set out in the Regional Constitution.


Article 63:


The regional executive authority shall be made up of:


i) Regional President


ii) Regional Council of Ministers


Article 64:


Citizens of the region shall elect a President, to be called the Regional President, and he/she shall be the head of the executive authority and he/she will also represent the President of the Federal Republic of Iraq within the region on official state occasions.


Article 65:


Rules and procedures for the election of the Regional President, his/her term of office, responsibilities, relationship to the Regional Council of Ministers, and to other public authorities in the region shall be designated in the Regional Constitution.


Article 66:


The Regional Council of Ministers consists of the prime minister, his/her deputies and a number of ministers and the Council shall carry out its regional executive responsibilities under the supervision and guidance of the Regional President.


Article 67:


The rules and procedures to form the cabinet and its responsibilities and its relation to the Regional President shall be designated in the Regional Constitution.


Article 68:


The independent judicial powers in the region that will consist of all levels of courts including the Regional Cassation Court which shall look into civil and criminal and other cases and this shall be regulated by a regional law.


Article 69:


The region shall assume various responsibilities except those delegated to the federal government in accordance with this Constitution and in particular in Chapter 4 of Part III.


Article 70:


Conflicts that may arise between the federal and regional authorities among the regional authorities in relation to the responsibilities designated in this Constitution shall be referred to the High Court, “Constitutional Court” for adjudication.



Article 71:


Taxes shall not be levied, collected or altered unless by a federal or regional law.


Article 72:


The federal authorities alone may levy and collect export and import, “custom,” duties.


Article 73:


The Regional authorities shall levy the following taxes:


i) income


ii) inheritance


iii) agricultural land and property taxes


iv) property registration fees


v) court fees


vi) licence fees


vii) water and electricity charges


Article 74:


Each region shall have a share of the revenues from the oil wealth, grants, and foreign aid and loans in proportion to their population in relation to that of the total population of the country.



Article 75:


No changes to the borders of the two regions can be made except with the approval of the Assembly of the region concerned.

Article 76:


i) Citizens of the Kurdistan Region shall be appointed to the various positions in the federal ministries and other bodies both inside and outside the country and in particular in the deputy minister, director general, or other high level positions according to the ratio of the regional population to the total population of the Federal Republic of Iraq.


ii) The above-mentioned principle shall apply to the following:


a. Appointment of ambassadors, members of diplomatic and consular corps and federal representatives in international and regional organizations and bodies


b. Appointment to the Armed Forces and Federal Security


c. Participation in official Iraqi delegations and negotiations for the purpose of concluding international treaties


d. Acceptance of students for fellowships and scholarships as well as study abroad


e. Admission of students to academies, military and police colleges, and training programs both inside and outside the country


Article 77:


The peshmerga forces and their various divisions shall constitute a part of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Iraq.


Article 78:


Redress the effects of Arabization and deportations that took place in some parts of the Kurdistan Region. The deported Kurdish citizens from areas of the Province of Kirkuk and from Makhmoor, Sinjar, Zimar, Sheikhan, Khaniqin, Mandali, and others should return to their previous homes in those areas. As well, the Arab citizens who were brought by the authorities into those areas at any time since 1957 should return to their original homes.


Article 79:


This Constitution shall be the highest law of the land and all other laws issued in contradiction to it shall be considered null and void.


Article 80:


The terms of this Constitution cannot be amended unless through a 2/3 majority vote by members of both the Federal and Regional Assemblies.


Article 81:


The Federal Republic of Iraq shall be accountable to the United Nations organization for guaranteeing the rights, the boundaries, and powers of the two regions designated in this Constitution and the Regional Constitutions.


Article 82:


The structure of the Federal Republic of Iraq and its political system as laid out in this Constitution cannot be changed unless through a decision by the legislative authorities in the Federal and Regional levels. Action contrary to this shall afford the people of the Kurdistan Region the right of self-determination.


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