AuthorKostic-Mandic, Maja
The national legal system
Montenegro is a democracy, defined in its Constitution as a ‘civil, democratic, ecological
state with social ju stice, based on the rule of law’. The Constitution also establishes a
separation of legi slative, executive and judicial powers. Montenegro i s a civil law country
with the Constituti on 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 Con stitution and the law (Article 145 of the Constitution ). All
legislation in Montenegro may be subjected to review by the Constitutional Court.
Montenegro has rati fied all the major international human right s treaties, 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 Ri ghts, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and the
Optional Prot ocol to this Conventi on, the International Convention on the Elimination of
All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the UN Convent ion on the Rights of Child and the
Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Opti onal Protocol.
Montenegro has also rati fied two main Council of Europe mi nority right s instruments
the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages and the Framework Convention
for the Protection of National Minorities.
Montenegro is also a State Party to International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions,
including those on discrimination in employment and occupation and the Equal
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 Constitution provides that, ‘ratified and
published international agreements and general ly accepted rules of international law shall
form an integral part of the national legal order, shall have supremacy over national
legislation and shall be directly applicable when they regulate relations di fferently from
domestic legislation’. In practice, Montenegrin courts rarely invoke international anti-
discrimination standards other than those from the European Convention on Human
Rights and the ju risprudence of the European Court of Human Rights. If and when they
do so, the courts generally invoke the norm without properly engaging in a discrimination
test in accordance with the generally accepted standard of testing .6
A somewhat different situation applies when the standards of the UN Convention on the
Rights of Person s with Disabilities are applied but only when it c omes to the 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-j udicial bodies.
The Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the European Union came into force on
1 May 2010. This international treaty has h ad far -reaching consequences for the legal
order of Montenegro. Namely, according to Article 72 of this agr eement, Montenegro has
committed itself to gradually approximating its l egislation and policies with the acquis in
line with the European Partnership priorities. With the same provision Montenegro
undertook to harmonise national legislation in line with EU law. This process was
supposed to start on th e date of signing of this Agreement, gradually being extended to
all the elements of the acquis c ommunautaire until the end of the transition period of five
6 For example, the decision by Nikšić Basic Court P.No.1890/15 of 11 October 2017.

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