Kurdistan: Constitution of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region
The Kurds are an ancient people who have lived in their homeland of Kurdistan for thousands of years, a nation with all the attributes that entitle it to practice the right of self-determination similar to other nations and peoples of the world. This is a right that was recognized for the first time in Woodrow Wilsons Fourteen Points issued at the end of World War I and the principles of which have since become entrenched in international law.
In spite of the 1920 Treaty of Sevres that recognized the right of self-determination in articles 62-64, international interests and political expediency prevented the Kurds from enjoying and practising this right. In contradiction to what that Treaty had offered, Southern Kurdistan was annexed in 1925 to the newly created state of Iraq, which had been created four years earlier in 1921, without consideration of the will of its people, although it was stipulated that officials of Kurdish origin should be appointed to the administration of their own land and that Kurdish should be the language of education, the courts and for all services rendered. Since that time this part of Kurdistan has been known as Iraqi Kurdistan. On December 25, 1922, the British and Iraqi governments made a joint official statement that admitted the right of the Kurds to set up a government of their own and asked that the representative of the Kurds negotiate the form of that government, the geographic boundaries, and the nature of the political and economic relations with Iraq.
When Iraq was admitted to the League of Nations it was conditional on Iraq issuing a statement, which it made on May 30, 1932. The statement includes a number of international obligations and sets out guarantees for the rights of the Kurds that Iraq is not allowed to amend or abolish without a majority vote from the members of the League of Nations in accordance with Article 10 of the above-mentioned statement. These obligations have been transferred to the United Nations organization and are still in effect to this day.
The interim Constitution for the Republic of Iraq issued in 1958 stated in Article 3 that Arabs and Kurds are partners in the Iraqi state and then on March 11, 1970 an agreement was reached between the Kurdish leadership and the Government of Iraq that recognized autonomy for the people of Kurdistan within the Iraqi Kurdistan Region as the constitutional means for their rights in Iraq. In spite of this, successive Iraqi governments have turned their backs on these obligations to the Kurds and instead have practised a racist and chauvinistic policy of ethnic cleansing and destruction by all political and military means. They have altered the demographic reality through forcible deportation of the Kurds and changing their national identity to Arab. They have even gone as far as using internationally prohibited chemical weapons in such areas as the city of Halabja, Balisan and parts of the Duhok Province. They have razed some 4,500 towns and villages while driving tens of thousands of unarmed civilian Kurds, among them Faylis and Barzanis, into an unknown future. This was followed by other campaigns of collective destruction that became known as the Anfal in the process of which 182,000 unarmed civilians were the victims.
On April 5, 1991, the Security Council voted on Resolution 688 setting up the Safe Haven for the Kurds by the Allies following the second Gulf War thus acting to prevent the Kurds from facing an ominous future. The Kurds used this opportunity to elect their first parliament on May 19, 1992 and to establish the Kurdistan Regional Government. By a unanimous vote of the Iraqi Kurdistan National Assembly, the Parliament, the people of the Kurdistan Region were able to practice their right in choosing the form of future constitutional relationship with the Iraqi government and hence decided on federalism as the constitutional basis for the Government of Iraq whereby the Iraqi Kurdistan Region would comprise one of the future regions of the Federal Republic of Iraq.
The federalism formula is seen as an ideal solution for the ethnically pluralistic Iraqi society that would safeguard its unity and would, to a large degree, satisfy the legitimate aspirations of the people of Iraqi Kurdistan as this formula will guarantee their participation in the making of decisions while protecting the integrity and unity of Iraq. It is for these reasons that the preparation of this draft constitution attempts to embody the decision by the Iraqi Kurdistan National Assembly on federalism. It is to be guided also by the principles and values of democracy, pluralism and respect of human rights, and in accordance with international agreements and conventions related to civil and political rights and international convention on social, economic and cultural rights of 1966 to which Iraq became a signatory on January 25, 1971. Choosing the above alternative is also in harmony with the principles of the New World Order. The peoples and nations that have chosen the road of federalism have achieved great success, such as in the United States of America, Canada, Belgium, and others, whereby participation is afforded all nationalities, groups, and constituents in the governance and decision making at the federal level, hence making possible the actual embodiment of democracy and its practise in a real sense. Moreover it would bring about internal independence to the people of the regions and so the federal solution is seen as the best guarantee for maintaining the integrity of the country.
The people of Kurdistan have always supported a peaceful solution to their problem and have positively reacted to all the calls of successive Iraqi governments for negotiation and the establishment of peace. However, they have repeatedly met lack of faith and reneging of those governments on their promises and national and international obligations. Therefore, no constitutional document alone can guarantee proper implementation or endurance in a practical way unless there are sufficient international guarantees so that all sides to the agreement will abide by it and respect its terms. This past ten years experiment has proven the value of international protection that has afforded the people of Kurdistan to enjoy their freedom and their national rights in an environment that is safe and free from persecution and oppression. It is therefore deemed necessary that such protection is seen as a crucial element until a final, just, enduring and internationally guaranteed solution is reached.
PART I - GENERAL MATTERS
As a region of the Federal Republic of Iraq, the Kurdistan Region shall have a multi-party, democratic, parliamentarian, republican political system.
The Kurdistan Region consists of the Provinces of Kirkuk, Sulaimaniyah and Erbil in their administrative boundaries prior to 1970 and the Province of Duhok along with the districts of Aqra, Sheikhan, Sinjar and the sub-district of Zimar in the Province of Ninevah, the district of Khaniqin and Mandali in the Province of Diyala, and the district of Badra in the Province of Al-Wasit.
Power is inherent in the people as they are the source of its legitimacy.
The people of the Kurdistan Region consist of the Kurds and the national minorities of Turkmen, Assyrians, Chaldeans, and Arabs and this Constitution recognizes the rights of these minorities
The city of Kirkuk shall be the capitol of the Kurdistan Region.
There shall be a special flag for the Kurdistan Region in addition to the flag of the Federal Republic of Iraq and this shall be regulated by law.
i) Kurdish shall be the official language of the Kurdistan
ii) Official correspondence with the federal and regional authorities shall be in both Arabic and Kurdish.
iii) The teaching of Arabic in the Kurdistan Region shall be compulsory.
iv) The Turkmen language shall be considered the language of education culture for the Turkmen in addition to the Kurdish language. Syriac shall be the language of education and culture for those who speak it in addition to the Kurdish language.
PART II - BASIC RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES
i) Citizens of the Kurdistan Region are equal before the law
in their rights and responsibilities without discrimination due to race, color,
sex, language, ethnic origin, religion, or economic status.
ii) Women shall have equal rights with men.
iii) The family unit is the natural and fundamental group of the society. The protection of mothers and children shall be guaranteed. Government and society have a duty to care for youth and to protect the basic moral and ethical values, and the heritage of the people of Kurdistan and that shall be regulated by law.
i) 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
ii) The accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
i) The right to legal defence is guaranteed at all stages of
an investigation and trial in accordance with the law.
ii) Trial proceedings shall be open unless otherwise declared secret by the court.
i) The sanctity of the home and its contents shall be protected
and cannot be entered or searched except in accordance with procedures laid
out in the law.
ii) Individuals or their possessions cannot be searched except under conditions defined in the law.
iii) The integrity of the individual shall be protected and all types of torture, physical or psychological, are prohibited.
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.
The right of ownership is guaranteed and movable and immovable property cannot be confiscated except in accordance with the law. Property cannot be expropriated except where required to serve the public interest in accordance with the law and with fair compensation paid.
Citizens of the Kurdistan Region cannot be prevented from travelling abroad or returning to their homes. No restrictions shall be placed on the movement of people or the location of their residence except where stipulated in the law.
Freedom of expression, publication, printing, press, assembly, demonstration, and forming of political parties, unions and associations shall be guaranteed by law.
Freedom of religion, belief, and the practice of religious duties is guaranteed provided they do not conflict with provisions of this Constitution or the Federal Constitution or with federal laws and provided they do not go against general moral and ethical standards.
Political refugees shall not be extradited.
i) Primary education in the Kurdistan Region is compulsory
and shall be regulated by law.
ii) The government 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.
The right of academic research shall be guaranteed. Outstanding achievement, innovation and creativity shall be encouraged and rewarded.
i) Work is a right and duty of every citizen and the regional
government shall make efforts to create work opportunities for every capable
ii) The regional government shall guarantee good working conditions, work towards raising the standard of living as well as the skills and knowledge of all working individuals. The regional government 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.
The regional government guarantees to protect public health through consistent efforts to provide medical services in the fields of prevention, treatment and medication.
Paying taxes is a duty of every citizen and such taxes shall not be levied, collected or amended except by law.
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.
The judiciary in the Kurdistan Region 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.
PART III - KURDISTAN REGIONAL AUTHORITIES
CHAPTER 1 - LEGISLATIVE AUTHORITYKURDISTAN REGIONAL ASSEMBLY
The Kurdistan Regional Assembly is the legislative authority in the region and consists of the representatives of the people elected through direct secret, general ballot.
i) The electoral process for the election of the members of
the Kurdistan Regional Assembly, procedures (timing, proportional representation,
and qualifications of candidates and voters) shall be regulated by law.
ii) In the composition of the Assembly, fair representation of national minorities shall be observed.
i) The term of the Parliament is five years beginning with
the first session.
ii) The Assembly shall be convened at the request of the President of the Kurdistan Region within 15 days from the announcement of the final election results and the Assembly shall convene at the end of the above-mentioned period if there is no call.
The Assembly shall convene its first session presided over by the oldest member and through secret ballot a president, vice-president and secretary shall be elected.
Members of the Assembly shall swear the following oath of office:
I swear by God Almighty to protect the interest of the people of Kurdistan, their honor and rights and to carry out my duties as a member impartially, faithfully and sincerely.
i) A quorum in the Regional Assembly shall be reached when
a majority of members are in attendance and decisions made by a simple majority
of those present shall be carried out unless otherwise stipulated by law.
ii) Proposals for legislation, on other than financial matters, can be brought forward by ten members of the Assembly.
Salaries and stipends of the president of the Assembly and the members shall be regulated by law.
Procedural guidelines for conducting the business of the Assemblys ordinary and special sessions as well as rules and procedures of membership and filling of vacancies shall be regulated by internal rules of the Assembly.
The Regional Assembly shall exercise the following responsibilities:
i) Amending the Regional Constitution with a 2/3 majority of
ii) Legislating laws, amending, or abolishing them
iii) Giving vote of confidence to the cabinet, its members and withdrawing such confidence from them
iv) Approving the general budget for the Kurdistan Region and carrying out the necessary transfers and approving unexpected expenditures not included in the general budget
v) Levying, amending or abolishing taxes and duties
vi) Approving agreements that are made by the regional executive authority with other regions of the Federal Republic of Iraq, as well as foreign parties and the federal regions of other states in the areas of economic, development, culture, education, humanitarian, finance, security, and border issues
vii) Authenticating membership in the Assembly
viii) Issuing the necessary decisions for filling vacancies that occur within the Assembly according to the law
ix) Supervising the work of the executive authority for the Kurdistan Region
x) Drawing up the internal rules of the Assembly, deciding the staffing requirements, preparing the Assembly budget, appointing staff and designating salaries
xi) Forming investigative committees for matters that the Assembly deems necessary
i) A member of the Assembly enjoys parliamentary immunity.
He/she has the right to express views and opinions within the limits of the
internal rules of the Assembly.
ii) A member of the Assembly may not be investigated or arrested or have his/her rights and freedoms restricted, nor can he/she be put under surveillance or searched during a parliamentary session without the prior consent of the Assembly except in cases where there is no doubt that a crime or offence has been committed according to the law.
iii) A member of the Assembly may not be put under surveillance or arrested while not attending a parliamentary session without the permission of the president of the Assembly except where there is no doubt that a crime or offence has been committed according to the law, in which chase, the Assembly must be immediately informed of the measures taken.
i) The Assembly may dissolve itself with a 2/3 majority of
ii) The Assembly can be dissolved by a decree of the Regional President in the following cases:
a. If more than half of the Assemblys members resign.
b. If a legal quorum cannot be met within 45 days from the date the Assembly calls for a session.
c. If the Assembly does not give a vote of confidence to the Council of Ministers in three successive votes.
d. If the election laws of the Assembly are changed and the period remaining in the term of that Parliament is less than six months.
When the Parliament is dissolved or its term of office comes to an end, there shall be new general elections to elect a new Assembly within a period that is no longer than two months.
If the Parliamentary term of office comes to an end, the Assembly shall remain in office until a new Assembly has been elected and has convened its first session.
CHAPTER 2 - EXECUTIVE AUTHORITY
Section 1. - President of the Kurdistan Region
The region has a President called the President of the Kurdistan Region. He/she is the highest executive authority and he/she represents the President of the Federal Republic of Iraq in the region and substitutes for him/her on state occasions and coordinates between the federal and regional authorities.
The President of the Kurdistan Region is elected by direct, secret, general ballot by the people of the region.
The manner in which the President of the Kurdistan Region is elected, candidate qualifications, the manner he/she can be indicted or tried, have his/her term of office terminated shall be regulated by law.
The President of the Kurdistan Region, prior to assuming his/her responsibilities shall resume the following constitutional oath of office in front of the Kurdistan Regional Assembly:
I swear by God Almighty that I shall protect the rights, achievements and interests of the people of Kurdistan and respect the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Iraq and of the Kurdistan Region and to carry out my duties faithfully with impartiality and sincerity.
The term of office of the President of the Kurdistan Region is five years.
The salary and allowances of the President of the Kurdistan Region shall be designated by law.
The President of the Kurdistan Region shall assume the following responsibilities:
i) Proclaiming into law legislation passed by the Regional
ii) Issuing the call for general elections for the Regional Assembly
iii) Issuing the call to convene the normal or special sessions of the Regional Assembly
iv) Issuing the formal announcement of the Cabinet after it has received a vote of confidence from the Regional Assembly
v) Calling the Council of Ministers to session which he/she may chair or attend and requesting reports from the ministers
vi) Preparing draft laws and submitting them to the Regional Assembly for debate
vii) Issuing decisions that have the power of law following consultation with the President of the Regional Assembly and the Council of Ministers in cases where the Kurdistan Region, its political system, its general security, or its constitutional institutions face danger that may threaten its existence and at a time when it is difficult for the Regional Assembly to meet
viii) Declaring states of emergency in accordance with the law
ix) Using the powers that are delegated to him by the President of the Federal Republic of Iraq
x) Issuing decrees and decisions proposed by the Council of Ministers
xi) Mobilizing the Armed Forces and Internal Security Forces within the region
xii) Supervising and directing the Federal Security Forces operating temporarily or permanently within the region
xiii) Issuing the decree that formally announces the resignation of the Cabinet or a minister following withdrawal of confidence
xiv) Issuing decrees that accept the resignations of the Cabinet or a minister in the case where they were asked to do so and requesting that they remain in office until the formation of a new Cabinet or the appointment of a new minister
xv) Requesting the resignation of the Cabinet or a minister
xvi) Granting special amnesty to prisoners
xvii) Approving the death sentence or commuting it to life imprisonment
xviii) Appointing, dismissing or retiring judges, the regional chief prosecutor, regional general prosecutors and their deputies, heads of administrative units, and individuals to special positions in accordance with the law
xix) Conferring military ranks on officers of the Internal Security and dismissing or retiring them according to the law
xx) Conferring medals and awards as specified by law
An Office for the President of the Kurdistan Region shall be established, the requirements and structure of which shall be laid out in a law.
i) In the case of the resignation, demise, or permanent disability
of the President of the Kurdistan Region, a successor shall be elected in the
ii) When the position of the President of the Kurdistan Region becomes vacant, the President of the Kurdistan Regional Assembly shall assume responsibilities of the President until such time as a new President is elected.
iii) When the President of the Kurdistan Region is absent or on leave, the Regional Prime Minister shall assume the responsibilities of the President in an acting capacity.
Section 2 - Kurdistan Region Council of Ministers (Cabinet)
The Kurdistan Region Council of Ministers is the highest executive and administrative authority in the region; it carries out its executive responsibilities under the supervision and guidance of the Kurdistan Regional President.
i) The Council of Ministers is made up of the Prime Minister,
his deputies and a number of ministers, whose number shall not be less than
ii) The President of the Kurdistan Region shall ask a member of the Kurdistan Regional Assembly to form the cabinet.
iii) The Prime Minister designate shall choose his deputies and his/her ministers from among the members of the Kurdistan Regional Assembly or others who meet the necessary qualifications for membership in the Assembly.
iv) The Prime Minister designate shall present his/her cabinet to the Regional President for approval.
v) The Prime Minister designate following the approval of the Regional President shall present his/her cabinet to the Regional Assembly seeking a vote of confidence and when given a formal decree for the formation of the cabinet shall be issued.
Within the makeup of the Kurdistan Regions Council of Ministers representation of the national minorities, Turkmen, Assyrians, and Chaldeans, shall be taken into consideration.
The members of the cabinet are collectively responsible to the Kurdistan Regional Assembly with regard to the work of the cabinet while each minister is individually responsible for the work of his/her ministry.
The Council of Ministers shall assume the following responsibilities:
i) Carrying out the laws, regulations, and decisions while
protecting regional security and public property.
ii) Setting general policy for the Kurdistan Region in cooperation with the President of the Kurdistan Region.
iii) Preparing the economic development plans and securing the necessary means for their implementation.
iv) Preparing the general budget for the region.
v) Supervising, directing, following and coordinating the work of the ministries, institutions, and public facilities in the Kurdistan Region as well as abolishing or amending their decisions.
vi) Issuing executive and administrative decisions in accordance with the laws and regulations.
vii) Preparing draft laws and issuing regulations.
viii) Appointing, promoting, dismissing, or retiring staff and setting salaries according to the law.
ix) Making loans and special agreements in the economic development, cultural, and humanitarian fields with the institutions of the federal government or foreign parties.
The minister is directly responsible for all the affairs of his/her ministry.
i) The cabinet shall be considered to have resigned if the
Regional Assembly withdraws confidence from it.
ii) The minister shall be considered to have resigned if the Regional Assembly withdraws confidence in him/her.
The manner in which the Prime Minister, his/her deputies or his/her ministers are made accountable or are indicted and tried and the matter of setting their salaries and allowances shall be regulated by a law.
CHAPTER 3 - THE JUDICIARY
The Kurdistan Regions judicial authority is made up of the regions court system in all its levels.
The judiciary has general jurisdiction over all public and private entities and individuals except those that stipulated in a law.
The judiciary is independent with no power above it except the law itself.
The judiciary in the region, in all its levels and types, its structure and conditions under which its members are appointed, transferred, or held accountable shall be regulated by law.
The general prosecutor represents the society by defending general rights and ensuring justice.
The non-Muslim communities have the right to establish religious, spiritual, legal bodies in accordance with a special law. These bodies shall have the right to look into all personal matters of citizens belonging to those communities, matters which are not included in the competence and responsibility of the Muslim religious courts.
Sentences and decisions of the judiciary are passed in the name of the people.
PART IV - ADMINISTRATION AND MUNICIPAL COUNCILS
The administrative divisions of the Kurdistan Region shall be formed by regional law in a manner that does not contradict the terms of this Constitution.
A province, governorate, may be created, its administrative center and name may be designated or changed, and its boundaries may be altered by annexation or separation of its districts and/or sub-districts. Districts and/or sub-districts can be added to another province and all of the above shall be in accordance with a regional decree proposed by the Minister of Interior and approved by the Council of Ministers.
Districts may be created, their administrative centers and names may be designated or changed, and their boundaries may be altered by annexation or separation of sub-districts. Sub-districts may be added to another a district. Sub-districts may be created, their administrative centers and names may be designated or changed, and their boundaries may be designated. All of the above shall be in accordance with a regional decree proposed by the Minister of Interior and approved by the Council of Ministers.
Each center of a province, district, sub-district, and a village with a population no less than 3,000, shall have a municipality with a Council and will render public services to the population.
i) The head and the members of the Municipal Councils are elected
from among the people of their communities through direct, general, secret ballot.
ii) In the formation of these Municipal Councils, fair representation of the national minorities of the Kurdistan Region shall be taken into consideration.
The municipalities, the method of electing their heads and members of the Municipal Councils, their powers, duration of office and all matters shall be regulated by a law.
PART V - FISCAL MATTERS
Taxes or duties cannot be levied, amended, or waived except by a law.
The regional authorities can levy and collect taxes and duties within the region, amend or abolish them taking. Such taxes and duties should be levied in a just and equitable manner comparable to the situation of the citizens of the Federal Republic of Iraq. Export and import duties (customs) are the responsibility of the federal authority.
Revenues of the Kurdistan Region are made up of:
i) Taxes, duties, and public service fees, as well as taxes
from corporations and institutions within the region
ii) The Kurdistan Regions share of natural resources, in particular, oil, and revenue from the sale of its products in and outside the country, as well as grants, aid, foreign loans made to the Federal Republic of Iraq in a proportion based on the relation of the regions population to the total population of Iraq.
iii) Grants, endowments and proceeds of lotteries, and other public income
iv) Internal and external loans intended specifically for the Kurdistan Region
From a fiscal point of view, the Kurdistan Region shall be a successor to the federal authorities in matters pertaining to financial debt, and tax and duty arrears that are related to the region.
The fiscal year shall be designated by a law.
Each fiscal year, the budgetary law that will consist of the estimated revenues and expenditures for the Kurdistan Region shall be passed.
PART VI - MISCELLANEOUS
Any law, regulation, decision, or decree that undermines or sets a limit to the legitimate national rights of the Kurdish people or the citizens of the Kurdistan Region or if they contradict the terms of this Constitution shall be null and void.
The structure of the entity and the political system of the Federal Republic of Iraq cannot be changed without the consent of the Kurdistan Regional Assembly. Action contrary to this shall afford the people of the Kurdistan Region the right of self-determination.
If constitutional conflict or disagreement arises between the Kurdistan Regional authorities and the authorities of the Federal Republic of Iraq or the Arab regional authority, they shall be referred to the Federal Constitutional Court for adjudication.
If there is difference in the interpretation of the terms of this Constitution between the Kurdistan regional authorities, they shall be referred to the Cassation Court of the Kurdistan Region for adjudication.