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A proposal for a new constitution for the Republic of Iceland delivered to the Althing by The Constitutional Council

Click here to read full proposed crowd-sourced constitution (114 articles)

Constitutional BILL

A proposal for a new constitution for the Republic of Iceland delivered to the Althing by The Constitutional Council on 29 July 2011


We, the people of Iceland, wish to create a just society with equal opportunities for everyone.[1] Our different origins enrich the whole, and together we are responsible for the heritage of the generations, the land and history, nature, language and culture.

Iceland is a free and sovereign state, resting on the cornerstones of freedom, equality, democracy and human rights.

The government shall work for the welfare of the inhabitants of the country, strengthen their culture and respect the diversity of human life, the land and the biosphere.

We wish to promote peace, security, well-being and happiness among ourselves and future generations. We resolve to work with other nations in the interests of peace and respect for the Earth and all Mankind.

In this light we are adopting a new Constitution, the supreme law of the land, to be observed by all.

Chapter I. Foundations

Article 1 Form of government

Iceland is a Republic governed by parliamentary democracy.[2]

Article 2 Branches of government[3]

The Althing holds legislative powers under a mandate from the nation.

The President of the Republic, Cabinet Ministers and the State government and other government authorities hold executive powers.

The Supreme Court of Iceland and other courts of law hold judicial powers.

Article 3 Territory

The Icelandic territorial land forms a single and indivisible whole. The boundaries of the Icelandic territorial sea, airspace and economic jurisdiction shall be decided by law.

Article 4 Citizenship

Persons with a parent of Icelandic nationality shall have the right to Icelandic citizenship. In other respects, citizenship shall be granted in accordance with law.

No one may be deprived of Icelandic citizenship.

An Icelandic citizen cannot be barred from entering Iceland nor deported from Iceland. The rights of aliens to enter and reside in Iceland, and the reasons for which they may be deported, shall be laid down by law.

Article 5 Duties of citizens

The government is required to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to enjoy the rights and freedoms provided for in this Constitution.

Everyone shall observe this Constitution in all respects, as well as legislation, obligations and rights that derive from the Constitution.

Chapter II. Human rights and nature

Article 6 Equality

We are all equal before the law and shall enjoy human rights without discrimination with regard to gender, age, genotype, residence, financial position, disability, sexual orientation, race, opinions, political affiliation, religion, language, origin, family or position in other respects.

Men and women shall enjoy equal rights in all respects.

Article 7 The right to life

Everyone is born with the right to life.

Article 8 Human dignity

Everyone shall be guaranteed the right to live with dignity. The diversity of human life shall be respected in every regard.

Article 9 Protection of rights

The government is at all times required to protect the citizens against violations of human rights, whether committed by public authorities or others.

Article 10 Security

Everyone shall be guaranteed security and protection against violence of any kind, such as sexual violence, inside and outside the home.

Article 11 Protection of privacy

The protection of personal privacy and the privacy of home and family shall be guaranteed.

Bodily or personal search, or a search of a person’s premises or possessions, is permitted only in accordance with the decision of a court of law or specific permission by law. The same applies to the examination of documents and mail, communications by telephone and other telecommunications, and to any other comparable interference with a person’s right to privacy.

Notwithstanding the provisions of the first paragraph above, personal privacy and privacy of the home or family may be restricted by a specific provision of law if urgently necessary for the protection of the rights of others.

Article 12 Children’s rights

All children shall be guaranteed by law the protection and care that their well-being requires.

The best interests of the child shall always take precedence when decisions are made regarding a child’s affairs.

A child shall be guaranteed the right to express its views regarding all its affairs, and just account shall be taken of the child’s views in accordance with its age and maturity.

Article 13 Right of ownership

The right of private ownership shall be inviolate. No one may be obliged to surrender his property unless required by the public interest. Such a measure requires permission by law, and full compensation shall be paid.

Ownership rights entail obligations as well as restrictions in accordance with law

Article 14 Freedom of opinion and expression

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and belief and to the expression of his thoughts.

Censorship or other similar restrictions on freedom of expression shall never be provided for by law. However, the freedom of expression may be restricted by law for the protection of children, security, health or the reputation of others, as necessary in a democratic society.

The government shall guarantee conditions that are conducive to open and informed public discussion. Access to the Internet and information technology shall not be curtailed except by a decision of a court of law and on the same substantive conditions that apply to restrictions on the freedom of expression.

Everyone is accountable for the expression of his opinion before a court of law.

Article 15 Right to information

Everyone is free to gather and disseminate information.

Government administration shall be transparent, and documents, such as minutes of meetings, shall be preserved and any submissions, their origins, process and outcome, shall be recorded and documented. Such documents shall not be destroyed except in accordance with law.

Information and documents in the possession of the government shall be available without evasion and the law shall ensure public access to all documents collected or procured by public entities. A list of all cases and documents in public custody, their origin and content shall be available to all.

The collection, dissemination and surrender of documents, their preservation and publication, can only be restricted by law for a democratic purpose, e.g. in the interest of protecting personal privacy, the security of the nation or the lawful work of regulatory authorities. It is permitted to restrict access by law to working documents, provided that no further steps are taken than necessary to preserve the normal working conditions of government authorities.

As regards documents which are subject to confidentiality by law, information shall be available as regards the reasons for the confidentiality and the limits on the time of confidentiality.

Article 16 Freedom of the media

The freedom of the media, their independence and transparency of ownership shall be ensured by law.

The protection of journalists, their sources of information and whistle-blowers shall be ensured by law. It is not permitted to breach confidentiality without the consent of the person providing the information except in the process of criminal proceedings and pursuant to a court order.

Article 17 Freedom of culture and education

The freedom of science, higher learning and the arts shall be ensured by law.

Article 18 Freedom of religion

Everyone shall be guaranteed the right to belief and world view, including the right to change his religion or faith and remain independent of religious associations.

Everyone is free to practice religion, alone or in association with others, in private or in public.

The freedom to practice religion or faith shall only be subject to the limitations provided for by law and as necessary in a democratic society.

Article 19 Organisation of the Church

The organisation of the Church may be provided for by law.

If the Althing approves a change in the organisation of the State Church the matter shall be submitted to a vote for approval or rejection by the entire electorate of the country.

Article 20 Freedom of association

Everyone shall be guaranteed the right to form associations for any lawful purpose, including political associations and trade unions, without prior permission. An association may not be dissolved by an administrative decision.

No one may be obliged to be a member of any association. However, obligatory membership of an association may be provided for by law if necessary in order to enable an association to carry out its lawfully decreed functions for reasons of the public interest or the rights of others.

Article 21 Freedom of assembly

Everyone shall be ensured the right to assemble without special permission, as for meetings and protests. This right shall not be subject to any restrictions except as provided by law and as necessary in a democratic society.

Article 22 Social rights

Everyone shall be ensured by law the right to sustenance and social security.

Everyone in need shall be ensured by law the right to social security and social assistance, as in the case of unemployment, childbirth, old age, poverty, physical handicap, sickness, disability or comparable circumstances.

Article 23 Health services

Everyone shall have the right to enjoy mental and physical health to the highest possible standard.

Everyone shall be ensured by law the right to accessible, appropriate and adequate health services.

Article 24 Education

Everyone shall be ensured by law the right to general education and training to his ability.

Everyone who is subject to compulsory schooling shall have access to education without charge.

Education shall aim at achieving comprehensive development for each individual, critical thinking and consciousness of human rights, democratic rights and obligations.

Article 25 Freedom of employment

Everyone is free to pursue the occupation of his choosing. However, this right may be restricted by law if the public interest so requires.

The right to decent working conditions, such as rest, holidays and leisure time, shall be provided for by law. Everyone shall be ensured the right to fair remuneration and to negotiate employment terms and other rights relating to employment.

Article 26 Rights of residence and movement

All persons shall be free to choose their residence and shall be free to travel, subject to any limitations laid down by law.

No one may be prevented from leaving Iceland except by a decision of a court of law. However, a person may be prevented from leaving Iceland by lawful arrest.

The rights of refugees and asylum seekers to fair and swift proceedings shall be provided for by law.

Article 27 Deprivation of freedom

No one may be deprived of his freedom except as permitted by law.

Any person deprived of his freedom shall have the right to be informed promptly of the reasons therefor.

Any person arrested by reason of suspicion of criminal conduct shall be brought before a judge without delay. If he is not immediately released, the judge shall issue within 24 hours a reasoned decision as to whether he should be remanded in custody. Remanding in custody is permitted only in the case of actions which are subject to a sentence of imprisonment. The right of a person detained on remand to refer the remanding decision to a superior court shall be guaranteed by law. No person shall be remanded in custody for longer than necessary.

Any person deprived of his f freedom for reasons other than criminal proceedings shall be entitled to have the legality of the measure reviewed by a court as promptly as possible. If the deprivation of freedom proves to have been unlawful he shall be released immediately.

Any person wrongfully deprived of freedom shall be entitled to compensation.

Article 28 Fair hearing

All persons shall be entitled to a fair hearing within a reasonable time before an independent and impartial court of law for the determination of their rights and obligations, or in the event of any criminal charge against them. The hearing shall be conducted in public unless a judge decides otherwise pursuant to law in the interest of morals, public order, the security of the State or the interests of the parties and witnesses.

Everyone charged with criminal conduct shall be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Article 29 Prohibition of inhuman treatment

The death penalty may never be stipulated by law.

No one may be subjected to torture or any other inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

No one shall be subjected to forced labour.

Click here to read full proposed crowd-sourced constitution (114 articles)