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A decree is a rule of law usually issued by a head of state (such as the president of a republic or a monarch), according to certain procedures (usually established in a constitution). It has the force of law. The particular term used for this concept may vary from country to country. The executive orders made by the President of the United States, for example, are decrees (although a decree is not exactly an order). In non-legal English usage, however, the term refers to any authoritarian decision.[dubious ]

Decree by country[edit]


Main article: Decree (Belgium)

In Belgium, a decree is a law of a community or regional parliament, e.g. the Flemish Parliament.


See Government of France.

The word décret, literally "decree", is an old legal usage in France and is used to refer to orders issued by the French President or Prime Minister. Any such order must not violate the French Constitution or Code of Law of France, and a party has the right to request an order be nullified in the French Council of State. Orders must be ratified by Parliament before they can be modified into legislative Acts. Special orders known as décret-loi, literally "decree-act" or "decree-law",[1][2] usually considered an illegal practice under the 3rd and 4th Republic, were finally abolished and replaced by the ordinances under the 1958 Constitution.

Except for the reserve powers of the President (as stated in Art. 16 of the 1958 Constitution, exercised only once so far), the executive can issue decrees in areas that the Constitution grants as the responsibility of Parliament only if a law authorizes it to do so. In other cases, orders are illegal and, should anyone sue for the order's nullification, it would be voided by the Council of State. There exists a procedure for the Prime Minister to issue ordinances in such areas, but this procedure requires Parliament's express consent (see Art 38 of the 1958 Constitution).

Orders issued by the Prime Minister take two forms:

  • Orders (décrets simples);
  • Orders-in-council (décrets en Conseil d'État), when a statute mandates the advisory consultation of the Conseil d'État.

Sometimes, people refer to décrets en Conseil d'État improperly as décrets du Conseil d'État. This would imply that it is the Conseil d'État that takes the decree, whereas the power of decreeing is restricted to the President or Prime Minister; the role of the administrative sections of the Conseil is purely advisory.

Decrees may be classified into:

Only the prime minister may issue regulatory or application decrees. Presidential decrees are generally nominations, or exceptional measures where law mandates a presidential decree, such as the dissolution of the French National Assembly and the calling of new legislative elections.

Decrees are published in the Journal Officiel de la République Française or "French Gazette".

Holy See[edit]

The Holy See uses decrees from the pope such as papal bull, papal brief or motu proprio as legislative acts.[3]


See Law of Portugal.

In Portugal, there are several types of decrees issued by the various bodies of sovereignty or by the bodies of self-government of autonomous regions.

Currently, there are the following types of decrees:

  1. Decree-law (decreto-lei): is a legislative act issued by the Government of Portugal under its legislative powers defined by Article 198 of the Portuguese Constitution;
  2. Regional legislative decree (decreto legislativo regional): is a regional law, issued by the legislative assembly of an autonomous region, within its powers defined by articles 227 and 233 of the Constitution ;
  3. Decree of the President of the Republic (decreto do Presidente da República): is a decree issued by the President of Portugal, for the ratification of international treaties, the appointment or dismissal of members of the Government or to exercise other presidential powers defined in the Constitution;
  4. Decree (decreto): is an act issue by the Government of Portugal to an approve international agreement whose approval is not within the competence of the Assembly of the Republic or has not been submitted to it or within the Government administrative jurisdiction laid down in Article 199 of the Constitution in relation to a statute that requires this decree;
  5. Regulatory decree (decreto regulamentar): is an act issued by the Government of Portugal, under its administrative jurisdiction laid down in Article 199 of the Constitution, to make the necessary regulations for the proper execution of the laws and to take all actions and decisions necessary to promote economic and social development and to meet the community needs;
  6. Regional regulatory decree (decreto regulamentar regional): is an act issued by the legislature or the government of an autonomous region, regulating the proper implementation of regional legislative decrees;
  7. Decree from the representative of the Republic (decreto do representante da República): is decree of appointment or removal of members of the government of an autonomous region, issued by the representative of the Republic for that region.


After the Russian Revolution, a government proclamation of wide meaning was called a "decree" (Russian: декрет, dekret); more specific proclamations were called ukaz. Both terms are usually translated as 'decree'.

According to the Russian Federation's 1993 constitution, an Ukase is a Presidential decree. Such ukazes have the power of laws, but may not alter the Russian constitution or the regulations of existing laws, and may be superseded by laws passed by the Federal Assembly.

The Government of Russia can also issue decrees formally called Decisions (Постановления) or Orders (Распоряжения) and may not contradict the constitution/laws or presidential decrees.

Other uses of the term[edit]

In some jurisdictions, certain types of court orders by judges are referred to as decrees.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "decree-law" in the Random House Dictionary.
  2. ^ "decree-law" in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.
  3. ^ "Decree". Catholic Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2007-02-17. 


  • Executive decree authority, John M. Carey and Matthew Soberg Shugart, Eds., Cambridge University Press, 1998, ISBN 0-521-59722-6

External links[edit]

All external sites in French unless otherwise noted.

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decree — Please support Wikipedia.
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Mon, 01 Sep 2014 16:48:45 -0700

Hong Kong has prospered as a financial and business center through both British and Chinese rule by being able to largely ignore politics and focus squarely on the bottom line. Now, politics are coming to the fore as Beijing presses unpopular changes ...

Ahram Online

Mon, 01 Sep 2014 14:22:30 -0700

Cairo — President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi issued Monday a presidential decree to govern the financing of the new Suez Canal development project through investment certificates. The decree pledges the National Egyptian Bank, Banque Misr, Banque du Caire ...
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MOSCOW, August 30 /ITAR-TASS/ Russian President Vladimir Putin in a phone call on Saturday congratulated Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko on the 60th anniversary, the Kremlin press service said. Putin also sent a congratulatory telegram to ...
Tico Times
Tue, 26 Aug 2014 11:39:53 -0700

A reorganization of the Solís administration has the tourism sector on edge. On Monday, the Costa Rican Chamber of Hotels criticized a decree signed by President Luis Guillermo Solís that places the tourism sector under the authority of the Economy ...

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Pittsburgh Post Gazette
Wed, 13 Aug 2014 08:42:03 -0700

Not on this board and not when the topic is the NCAA consent decree. With divisiveness as the rule and a public audience cheering for alumni trustees and often groaning at the so-called "old-guard" trustees -- a resolution passed for Penn State to ...
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Thu, 28 Aug 2014 05:14:40 -0700

Inmates in the Orleans Parish Prison re-entry program are shackled together as they return to their dormitories in the jail's temporary tents on Thursday, November 10, 2011. (SCOTT THRELKELD / THE TIMES-PICAYUNE) (SCOTT THRELKELD / THE ...
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LIHUE — A federal judge ordered the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to correct a June 3 press release that announced a settlement was official after consent decrees were signed without mentioning it was subject to court approval.
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