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Serbia/ 5.1 General legislation  

5.1.1 Constitution

The Draft of the New Constitution was approved by Parliament on 30 September 2006 and was approved by the citizens of Serbia in a Referendum on 28 and 29 October 2006. The Constitution represents Serbia as the "state of the Serbian nation and all citizens who live in it", recognising cultural diversity and human rights among the main principles. It underlines the affiliation to European principles and values.

Article 10 defines Serbian as the official language and Cyrillic as the official form of writing. The official use of all the other languages and letters in Serbia can be regulated by law, based on the Constitution.

Article 11 states that Serbia is a secular state, and that no religion can be placed as mandatory or official.

Article 14 states that the Republic of Serbia protects the rights of national minorities and guarantees them special protection, equality and preservation of their identity.

Article 15 guarantees the equality of men and women, developing the politics of equal opportunity.

Article 21 forbids any kind of discrimination based on race, gender, nationality, religion, political or any other beliefs, as well as culture and language.

Article 43 guarantees freedom of thought, conscience and religious beliefs.

Article 46 guarantees freedom of thought and expression, and freedom to accept and spread information and ideas through speech, image or any other way.

Article 48 encourages respect for differences (ethnicity, culture, language, religious identity) through measures in education, culture and public information systems.

Article 50 defines freedom of the media and regulates censorship.

Article 51 defines the right of citizens to be informed.

Article 73 defines freedom of scientific and artistic work. Authors of scientific and artistic work are guaranteed moral and material rights, regulated by law. The Republic of Serbia encourages and helps the development of science, culture and the arts.

Article 79 defines the right of preservation of uniqueness of ethnic minorities: the right to express, keep, nurture, develop, and publicly express their national, ethnic, cultural and religious particularity; to use their symbols in public space; to use their language and system of writing; to have the option to participate in court proceedings in their own language. In the areas where minorities make up a large portion of the population, they are entitled to go to public schools in their own language. They are also entitled to set up their own private educational institutions; to use their first and last name in their own language; to have the names of the streets and institutions written in their own language in the areas where they make up a large number of the population; have the right to receive and give information and ideas in their own language; and to set up their own media.

Article 80 defines the right of national minorities to form their own educational and cultural organisations which they finance voluntarily, as well as the right to links with their compatriots outside the territory of the Republic of Serbia.

Article 81 calls for the development of a spirit of tolerance between all the people living on the territory of the Republic of Serbia, through education, culture and the media.

Article 183 defines the jurisdictions of the autonomous provinces which are defined by the Constitution and the Statute of the autonomous province. One of the jurisdictions of the autonomous provinces is culture.

Article 190 defines the jurisdictions of the municipalities. One of the jurisdictions is to answer to the cultural needs of the citizens of the municipality.

Although the Constitution was approved in October 2006, some important Constitutional laws are still in the process of being written or approved. In 2010, initiatives were raised by the representatives of some political parties (ruling and opposition) for changes in the Constitution, mainly concerning better support for decentralisation; relations between the Parliament and the members of Parliament (should the ownership of the mandates be in the hands of every member of the parliament, or it should still be controlled in some way by the political parties); and a more civil versus national tone of the Constitution (in the current Constitution, Serbia is a state of Serbs and other citizens). These initiatives continued in 2011, but there are no serious signs that the Constitution is going to be changed soon, because the problem of the Constitution is closely connected to the Kosovo crisis – a majority in the Parliament sees the Constitution and its Preamble as one of the main legal instruments for the protection of the right of Kosovo to formally remain part of the Republic of Serbia, while some part of the oppositions sees this Preamble as an obstacle to EU integration of Serbia.

Chapter published: 17-08-2015

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