JURIST >> WORLD LAW >> Monaco 

Constitution, Government & Legislation | Courts & Judgments | Human Rights | Legal Profession
map courtesy CIA World Factbook; click for enlargement Constitution, Government & Legislation

Monaco has been governed as a constitutional monarchy since 1911, with the Prince as chief of state. The executive branch consists of a Minister of State (head of government), who presides over a four-member Council of Government (cabinet). The Minister of State, who is a French citizen appointed by the Prince for a 3-year term from among several senior French civil servants proposed by the French Government, is responsible for foreign relations. As the Prince's representative, the Minister of State also directs the executive services, commands the police, and presides (with voting powers) over the Council of Government. The three other members of the Council are responsible for financial and economic affairs, internal affairs, and public works and social affairs, respectively.

Under the 1962 constitution, the Prince shares his power with the unicameral National Council. The 18 members of this legislative body are elected from lists by universal suffrage for 5-year terms. If the Prince dissolves the National Council, new elections must be held within 3 months. Usually meeting twice annually, the Council votes on the budget and endorses laws proposed by the Prince.

Ordinances passed by the National Council are debated in the Council of Government, as are the ministerial decrees signed by the Minister of State. Once approved, the ordinances must be submitted to the Prince within 80 days for his signature, which makes them legally enforceable. If he does not express opposition within 10 days of submission, they become valid.

Source: U.S. Department of State

Courts & Judgments

Under the Monacan Constitution, the Prince delegated his judicial powers to the judiciary, which dispenses justice in his name. The Supreme Court is the highest court for judicial appeals and also interprets the constitution when necessary. The Supreme Court is composed of five chief members and two assistant judges named by the Prince on the basis of nominations by the National Council and other government bodies. Monaco's legal system, closely related to that of France, is patterned after the Napoleonic Code. As under French law, a three-judge tribunal considers the evidence collected by the investigating magistrate and hears the arguments made by the prosecuting and defense attorneys. Defendants enjoy a presumption of innocence and the right of appeal.

Source: U.S. Department of State

Human Rights

The Monacan Government generally respected the human rights of its citizens in 2001, and the law and the judiciary provide effective means of dealing with individual instances of abuse. Authority to change the Government and initiate laws rests with the Minister of State. The Penal Code prohibits public denunciations of the ruling family. The Constitution distinguishes between those rights that are provided for all residents and those that apply only to the approximately 7,000 residents who hold Monegasque nationality. Some remnants of legal discrimination against women persist, particularly with regard to the transmission of citizenship.

Source: U.S. Department of State

Legal Profession
Click for conditions