AuthorMaja Kostić-Mandić
The national legal system
Montenegro is a democracy, defined in its Con stitution as a ‘civil, democratic, ecological
state with social justice, based on the rule of law’. The Constitution also establishes a
separation of legislative , executive and judicial powers. Montenegro is a civil law country
with the Constitution as its supreme legal act. The law must be in conformity with the
Constitution and ratified international agreements, and other regulations must be in
conformity with the Constitution and the law (Article 145 of the Constitution). All legislation
in Montenegro may be subjected to review by the Constitutional Court.
Montenegro has ratified all the major international human rights trea ties, including the
European Convention on Human Rights and its Protocol 12, the European Social Charter
(revised) and United Nations conventions the International Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention
on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and the Optional Protocol
to this Convention, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial
Discrimination, the UN Convention on the Rights of Child and the Convention on the Rights
of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol.
Montenegro has also ratified two main Council of Europe minority rights instruments the
European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages and the Fram ework Convention for
the Protection of National Minorities.
Montenegro is also a state party to Internati onal Labour Organization (ILO) conventions,
including those on discrimination in employment and occupation and the Eq ual
Remuneration Convention.
International treaties are directly applicable in Montenegro and do not need to be
incorporated by an act of Parliament, thus theoretically offering effective protection against
discrimination in domestic law, although the courts seldom invoke international law as a
basis for their decisions. Article 9 of the Constitut ion provides that, ‘ratified and published
international agreement s and generally accepted rules of i nternational law shall form an
integral part of the national legal order, shall have supremacy over national legislation and
shall be directly applicable when they regulat e relations differently from domestic
legislation’. There is no unanimous doctrinal attitude, neither in the official legal attitude
of the Constitutional Court nor in that of the Supreme Court, regarding whether the
supreme position of the Constitution over other sou rces remains the case. In practice,
Montenegrin courts rarely invoke international anti-discrimination standards other than
those deriving from the European Convention on Human Rights and the jurisprudence of
the European Court of Human Rights. If and when they do so, the court s generally invoke
the norm without properly engaging in a discrimination test in accordance with the
generally accepted standard of testing.5
A somewhat different situation applies wh en the stan dards of the UN Convention on the
Rights of Person s with Disabilities are applied but only when it comes to th e accessibility
of public buildings. However, even in these cases there is no reference to specific case-law
from the jurisprudence of international judicial or quasi-ju dicial bodies.
The Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the European Union came in to force on
1 May 2010. This international treaty has had far-reaching consequences for the legal order
of Montenegro. Namely, according to Article 72 of this agreement, Montenegro has
committed itself to gradually approximating its legislation and policies with t he acquis in
line with the European Partnership priorities. With the same provision Montenegro
5 For example, Nikšić Basic Court, decision of 11 October 2017, P. No. 1890/15.

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