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Newsletter of the Venice Commission
1 / 2014



March 2014 plenary session

 All decisions of the March plenary

At its 98th plenary session on 21-22 March 2014, the Commission  :

- adopted opinions inter alia on:

-    “whether Draft Federal Constitutional Law No. 462741-6 on amending the Federal Constitutional Law of the Russian Federation on the procedure of admission to the Russian Federation and creation of a new subject within the Russian Federation is compatible with international law” (endorsed);

 -   “whether the decision taken by the Supreme Council of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea in Ukraine to organise a referendum on becoming a constituent territory of the Russian Federation or restoring Crimea’s 1992 Constitution is compatible with constitutional principles”;

-   the draft law on the review of the Constitution of Romania;  

-   the draft Law on making amendments and supplements to the judicial code of Armenia ;

-   the draft law amending the law on freedom of religion in Kosovo[1];

-    adopted the reports on :

     o    the scope and lifting of parliamentary immunities, previously discussed by the Sub-Commission on Democratic Institutions;

      o    the protection of children’s rights: international standards and domestic constitutions;


-      held an exchange of views inter alia with :

  • Mr Dimitry Vyatkin, Deputy Chairman of the Committee on Constitutional Legislation and State Building of the Russian State Duma;
  • Mr Pavlo Petrenko, Minister of Justice of Ukraine,
  • Mr Mustapha Ben Jaafar, President of the National Constituent Assembly of Tunisia ;

-          was informed on :

    co-operation with the State Constitutional Commission of Georgia;
    follow-up to the opinion on two sets of draft amendments to the constitutional provisions relating to the judiciary of Montenegro, to the opinion on the Draft Law on the Courts of Bosnia and Herzegovina and to the amicus curiae brief in the cases of Sejdić and Finci v. Bosnia and Herzegovina;
    constitutional developments in Turkey;
    co-operation with Kazakhstan, Libya and Morocco;
    co-operation with Albania on the reform of the judiciary and ...

(read the synopsis of the plenary)

[2] All reference to Kosovo, whether to the territory, institutions or population, in this text shall be understood in full compliance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 and without prejudice to the status of Kosovo

Selected opinions

·  Ukraine - referendum in Crimea and constitutional principles

By letter dated 7 March 2014 the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Mr T. Jagland, asked the Venice Commission to provide an opinion on “whether the decision taken by the Supreme Council of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea in Ukraine to organise a referendum on becoming a constituent territory of the Russian Federation or restoring Crimea’s 1992 Constitution is compatible with constitutional principles”.

On 6 March 2014 the Supreme Rada (Council) of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea adopted a Resolution “On the all-Crimean referendum”. According to the Resolution, the voters are given two options: "1) Do you support the reunification of the Crimea with Russia as a subject of the Russian Federation? 2) Do you support the restoration of the Constitution of the Republic of Crimea as of 1992 and the status of the Crimea as a part of Ukraine?"

(read the summary )

·  Russia - draft on the admission of new Federation subjects   

On 28 February 2014, a group of deputies of the State Duma of the Russian Federation introduced Draft Federal Constitutional Law No. 462741-6 On Amending the Federal Constitutional Law on the Procedure of Admission to the Russian Federation and Creation of a New Subject within the Russian Federation. By a letter dated 7 March 2014, the Secretary General of the Council of Europe requested by way of urgency the opinion of the Venice Commission on the compatibility with international law of Draft Federal Constitutional Law No. 462741-6.

Since Draft Law No. 462741-6 focuses solely on the admission of new subjects, this opinion limits its attention to this aspect. The purpose of this opinion is to assess the text of the Draft Law and not to take a position on a specific situation.

The Draft Law further provides that in the situation foreseen in Draft Article 4 (2.1), the request for the admission of a new subject to the Russian Federation shall be submitted by “state authorities of the part of the foreign state” (Draft Article 6 (1.1)). The admission shall then be carried out solely on the basis of the constitutional law of the Russian Federation, with no need to conclude an international treaty with the foreign state.

The Explanatory Note attached to Draft Law No. 462741-6 explicitly refers to the situation in Ukraine and to the obligation of the Russian Federation to “take measures of support of the people of Ukraine that would push Ukraine´s authorities towards establishing proper order without violence and discrimination of national minorities”. Although it is therefore evident that it is designed to address the current situation in Ukraine, Draft Law No. 462741-6 is drafted in general terms.  

(read the summary)






Tunisia – new Constitution adopted and promulgated

Tunis, Bardo Palais - On 26 January 2014, the National Constituent Assembly of Tunisia adopted its new constitution by an overwhelming majority of 200 votes in favour, 12 against and 4 abstentions. On 27 January, the Constitution was promulgated by the President of the Republic, Mr Moncef Marzouki, the President of the NCA Mr Mustapha Ben Jaafar and the outgoing Prime Minister Mr Ali Laarayedh.

The Venice Commission participated in the ceremony of promulgation.



Professor Jean-Claude COLLIARD,
Member of the Venice Commission in respect of France

15/03/1946 - 27/03/2014  

Paris - The Venice Commission is sad to announce the death of Mr. Jean-Claude Colliard, the member in respect of France (since 2006) and Vice President of the Council for Democratic Elections (since 2010).  

Mr Colliard was very active in the Venice Commission: the Commission benefited from his wide experience and competences as President of the Paris University Panthéon-Sorbonne, as well as a professor of law and a member of the Constitutional Council of France, in particular in the field of elections. Professor Colliard contributed to the Commission’s work, participating in the preparation of opinions and studies and representing it during scientific conferences and seminars and as an elections observer.


Selected activities since the beginning of 2014

  • Democratic Institutions and Fundamental Rights

Freedom of assembly – meeting of the OSCE / ODHIR panel -

Warsaw – The Venice Commission, represented by its Moldovan member Mr N. Esanu, participated in the meeting of the OSCE/ ODHIR Panel on freedom of assembly.
The agenda included an exchange of views on the most recent developments in the field and discussions on specific topics related to the freedom of assembly in the framework of the revision of the joint Guidelines on freedom of assembly.


  • Constitutional and Ordinary Justice

Bosnia and Herzegovina - 50th anniversary of Constitutional Justice - 
27 - 28/03/2014

Sarajevo - A delegation of the Venice Commission, headed by its President, participated in the celebration on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Constitutional Justice in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Conference on “Constitutional Court – Between Negative Legislator and Positive Activism”.


  • Elections, Referendums and Political Parties

Georgia - Post election conference - 18-19/02/2014

Tbilisi – Venice Commission participated in a post-electoral conference entitled "the 2013 Presidential elections: lessons learned and steps ahead" co-organised by the Council of Europe, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).  


  • Neighbourhood Cooperation

Turkmenistan - Roundtable on judicial ethics and discipline  -

Ashgabat – The roundtable on “Judicial Ethics and Discipline”, was jointly organised by the Venice Commission, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland and the authorities of Turkmenistan. Participants in this meeting included representatives of the Ministry of Justice, judges from the Supreme Court as well as from lower courts.


·        Link to the Calendar of recent and current events



Forthcoming from the Council of Europe Publishing:

  • Bulletin of the Constitutional Case-Law: Issue 2013/2
  • "Co-operation of Constitutional Courts in Europe – Current Situation and Perspectives" - Special issue of the Bulletin of the Constitutional Case-Law





·        Albania - legislation on judiciary and on the Constitutional Court;

·        Armenia - constitutional reform; draft amendments to judicial code;

·        Azerbaijan - draft law on status of municipalities; 

·        Bosnia and Herzegovina - revision of the Constitution of the BiH Federation;

·        Kyrgyzstan - draft electoral code; draft amendments to the Law on Constitutional Chamber; draft law on status of judges;

·        Montenegro - relations between the state and church;

·        Russian Federation - NGOs and high treason and espionage;

·        Tajikistan - draft law on the Constitutional Court.


Electoral issues

·        Criteria for standing for local and regional elections

·        Method of nomination of candidates within political parties

·        The extent of the voter's choice: lists and candidates

·        Electoral lists and voters abroad


Democratic institutions and fundamental rights

·        Freedom of religion and belief - joint OSCE/ODIHR-VC revised guidelines

·        Freedom of association - joint OSCE/ODIHR-VC guidelines

·        Freedom of assembly - joint OSCE/ODIHR-VC guidelines

·        Implementing international human rights treaties in the domestic arena  

·        Security Services - update of the Commission's study

·        Rule of law - check list


  • Constitutional justice
  • Ordinary justice


Link to the calendar of upcoming events


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