The Law of Administration for the State of Iraq for the Transitional Period reference article from the English Wikipedia on 24-Apr-2004
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Law of Administration for the State of Iraq for the Transitional Period

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The Law of Administration for the State of Iraq for the Transitional Period is the new Iraqi constitution signed on March 8, 2004 by the Iraq Interim Governing Council. It will come into effect in July 1, 2004 following an anticipated official transfer of power from the coalition occupying force (led by the United States), to a sovereign Iraqi government. It will be replaced after general elections by a permanent constitution which must be drafted by August 15, 2005 and presented to the Iraqi people for approval in a general referendum to be held no later than October 15.

The preamble begins:

The people of Iraq, striving to reclaim their freedom, which was usurped by the previous tyrannical regime, rejecting violence and coercion in all their forms, and particularly when used as instruments of governance, have determined that they shall hereafter remain a free people governed under the rule of law.

And contains further, "...affirming today their respect for international law, ... working to reclaim their legitimate place among nations,... have endeavored at the same time to preserve the unity of their homeland."

Table of contents
1 Bill of Rights
2 Minority Rights
3 Political Structure
4 Judiciary
5 Kurdistan and Local Government
6 Role of Shariah
7 De-Ba'athification
8 Revenue from oil
9 Enforcement of Coalition-Created Laws
10 Initial response to the document
11 Links

Bill of Rights

Supporters lauded the constitution's guarantees of "fundamental rights":

A lengthy provision emphasizes that police, investigators, or other governmental authorities may not violate the "sanctity of private residences."

Iraqis are also guaranteed the right to "education, health care, and social security." The right to possess, bear, buy, or sell arms is subject to "licensure issued in accordance with the law."

The right to citizenship is detailed and prominent within the chapter on fundamental rights. Eight provisions govern who is and isn't a citizen. Any Iraqi whose citizenship was withdrawn for political, religious, racial, or sectarian reasons has the right to reclaim his Iraqi citizenship, and each Iraqi is guaranteed right to carry more than one citizenship. Revolutionary Command Council Decree 666, which in 1980 banned citizenship in Iraq for Iraqis of Persian origin, is explicitly annulled.

Minority Rights

Part of the Law of Administration's explicit rejection of Iraq's former racist policy (also explicitly referenced) is embodied in the wording "The federal system shall be based upon geographic and historical realities and the separation of powers, and not upon origin, race, ethnicity, nationality, or confession."

The Law stipulates that both Arabic and Kurdish be the official languages of Iraq.

Political Structure

The constitution provides for a National Assembly, to be elected no later than January 2005. In the meantime, a transitional government will be formed, taking consultation from various sectors of Iraqi society and the United Nations.

The new government will be a democratic republic, with three separate branches of government.

The elected National Assembly will a unicameral legislature with 275 elected members. Members will elect a President of the Assembly, who will serve as a non-voting speaker, and two deputies. The Assembly is the chief lawmaking organ, and will be required to propose and pass billss in order to make law for the country.

The assembly will also elect a President of State who along with two deputies will form a "Presidency Council" to "represent the sovereignty of Iraq and oversee the higher affairs of the country." The council represents the executive branch of government and has the right to veto laws passed by the Assembly. The Assembly can then over-rule the Council with a two-thirds majority vote.

The Presidency Council appoints the Prime Minister of Iraq and cabinet, all who must be approved by the Assembly. The Prime Minister and his cabinet will exercise most of the day-to-day runnings of government, including control over the armed forces. The Assembly has a right to remove the Prime Minister with a vote of no confidence.

The new government thus has a very de-centralized authority, to prevent abuse. The President of Iraq's powers are specifically diluted by the "Presidency Council" in order to remove personality-driven leadership.


Local court justices will be appointed by local governments and their "juridical councils", with the Supreme Court being appointed by the Federal Government. The Supreme Court will have nine members and possess the ability to over-turn legislation they find unconstitutional.

The constitution also establishes several "National Commissions" to investigate and address recent concerns such as human rights and war crimes.

Kurdistan and Local Government

The new constitution recognizes the current government of Kurdistan as the legitimate government of the Kurds, and allows it to continue to exist within the new federal state.

Iraq will have elected governors and "Governorate Councils" for each of its 18 states, as well as elected mayors and city councils for each city. Elections will be held at the same time as National Assembly elections.

Role of Shariah

Shariah is addressed in two ways: 1."Islam is the official religion of the State and is to be considered a source of legislation." But decisions according to Shariah may not abrogate articles or guarantees: 2."Any legal provision that conflicts with this Law is null and void." Thus the Law of Administration circumscribes Shariah.


Former BaÒath Party members who want to run for office are required to sign documents explicitly denouncing the party and denying they possess any continuing ties to the organization or its principles.

Revenue from oil

The natural resources of Iraq are explicited declared to belong to all the people of all the regions and governorates of Iraq. Their management is required to involve consultation with the governments of the regions and the administrations of the governorates. Revenue resulting from their sale through the national budget is required to be distributed in an equitable manner proportional to the distribution of population throughout the country, and with "due regard for areas that were unjustly deprived of these revenues by the previous regime."

Enforcement of Coalition-Created Laws

Section A of Article 26 of the new constitution reads:

"Except as otherwise provided in this Law, the laws in force in Iraq on 30 June 2004 shall remain in effect unless and until rescinded or amended by the Iraqi Transitional Government in accordance with this Law."

Consequently, this makes it impossible for the Iraqis to redact any law created by the Coalition Provisional Authority when they take over on June 30th. The net result of this is that US-established policy for Iraq will continue to govern it until a new constitution is drafted, which is unlikely to occur before the end of 2005.

Initial response to the document

Unlike Japan's post-war constitution, which was written almost single-handedly by General Douglas MacArthur, who was commanding the occupation forces, Iraq's new interim constitution was created by Iraqi civilians. Some critics within Iraq nevertheless say administrator Paul Bremer played too large a role in its creation; they specifically point out (information from Iraqi newspapers to follow).

Within hours, Shi'ite leaders warned that the Law of Administration could cause problems in the long term, with one senior cleric saying a clause on federalism has the potential to provoke civil war. Federalism is addressed in Ch. 8, articles 52 - 58 (for text see link).

It was also noted by several commentators that, at least in theory, this Iraqui constitution grants more social rights than the American Constitution.