Constitutional Court of Bulgaria, 27 July 1992, Decision 8, Constitutional Case No. 7
Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria
Article 5, paragraph 4
Any international instruments which have been ratified by the constitutionally established procedure, promulgated and having come into force with respect to the Republic of Bulgaria, shall be considered part of the domestic legislation of the country. They shall supersede any domestic legislation stipulating otherwise.
Protection against discrimination in employment and occupation
Reference to international law to strengthen a decision based on domestic law
Discrimination on the grounds of political opinion/ Prohibition of former Communist Party leaders from holding executive posts in banks/ Action before the Constitutional Court for violation of the Constitution/ Supremacy of international law over national law/ Reference to international law to strengthen a decision based on domestic law
A new law, the LBC,2 prohibited persons who had previously held executive offices in the organs of the Communist Party from holding similar posts in banks. Members of Parliament had instituted proceedings before the Constitutional Court to have this legislation declared unconstitutional and incompatible with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and with ILO Convention No. 111.
The Court first reaffirmed the status of the two above-mentioned international instruments in the domestic legal system:
"In accordance with Article 5(4) of the Constitution, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, ILO Convention No. 111 concerning Discrimination in Employment and Occupation, and the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties form an integral part of our national law upon their ratification, enactment and promulgation. It thus also follows that they have supremacy over our laws.”
Having affirmed the supremacy of these international standards over domestic law, the Constitutional Court of Bulgaria proceeded to compare the provisions of the new legislation with these international instruments and concluded that:
“(…) this is a case of restriction of the right to hold an executive post in the governing bodies of banks, which constitutes discrimination concerning access to particular occupations within the meaning of Article 1 of Convention No. 111. The statute is also inconsistent with Article 2(2) and Article 6(1) of the International Pact on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and with Articles 2 and 25 of the International Pact on Civil and Political Rights.
It follows from the above that the text of paragraph 9 of the Provisional and Final Provisions of the LBC is inconsistent with Article 6(2) of the Constitution3 and with the international conventions mentioned above. These conventions are deemed to form an integral part of national law and have supremacy over any national standards which are inconsistent with them. Consequently, it follows from the immediate application of the provisions of the Constitution and of the supremacy of international standards over national law that it must be admitted that (…) [the offending article of the new law] was adopted in breach of Article 6(2) of the Constitution and of the above-mentioned international conventions.”
On these grounds the Constitutional Court of Bulgaria ruled that the legislative provision prohibiting access for persons who had formerly held executive offices in the organs of the Communist Party was unconstitutional and inconsistent with the above-mentioned international conventions.
1 ILO Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention, 1958 (No. 111); International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966; International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 1966.
3 Article 6(2) of the Constitution of Bulgaria: “All citizens shall be equal before the law. There shall be no privileges or restriction of rights on the grounds of race, nationality, ethnic self-identity, sex, origin, religion, education, opinion, political affiliation, personal or social status, or property status.”