The Republic

Title I The Republic

Article 1

Costa Rica is a free and independent democratic Republic.

Article 2

Sovereignty resides exclusively in the Nation.

Article 3

No one may usurp sovereignty; anyone who does it commits the crime of treason to the Nation.

Article 4

No person or group of persons may assume the representation of the people, usurp their rights, or make petitions in their name. Violation of this Article shall be sedition.

Article 5

The national territory is bounded by the Caribbean Sea, the Pacific Ocean, and the Republics of Nicaragua and Panama. The boundaries of the Republic are those fixed by the Caas-Jrez Treaty of April 15, 1858, ratified by the Cleveland Award of March 22, 1888, with respect to Nicaragua, and by the Echandi Montero-Fernndez Jan Treaty of May 1, 1941, with regard to Panama.

The Coco Island, located in the Pacific Ocean, is part of the national territory.

Article 6

The State exercises complete and exclusive sovereignty over the air space above its territory, over its territorial waters within a distance of twelve miles measured from the low-tide mark along its shores, over its continental shelf and its insular undersea base, in accordance with principles of International Law.

It also exercises special jurisdiction over the seas adjacent to its territory within a distance of two hundred miles measured from the same mark, in order to protect, preserve and exploit exclusively all the natural resources and wealth existing in the waters, soil and subsoil of those zones, in accordance with those principles.
(As amended by Law N 5699, June 5, 1975).

Article 7

Public treaties, international agreements and concordats duly approved by the Legislative Assembly shall have a higher authority than the laws upon their enactment or from the day that they designate.

Public treaties and international agreements referring to the territorial integrity or the political organization of the country shall require the approval of the Legislative Assembly by a vote of not less than three fourths of its total membership and the approval of two-thirds of the Members of a Constitutional Assembly called for the purpose.
(As amended by Law N 4123, May 31, 1968).

Article 8

Foreign states may only acquire within the territory of the Republic, on a reciprocal basis, any real estate as necessary to base their diplomatic representations, notwithstanding what international agreements provide.

Article 9

The Government of the Republic is popular, representative, alternative and responsible. It is exercised by three distinct and independent branches: Legislative, Executive, and Judicial.
None of these Branches may delegate the exercise of their own functions.

A Supreme Electoral Tribunal, with the rank and independence of the Government Branches, has the exclusive and independent responsibility of the organization, direction and supervision of suffrage-related acts, as well as any other functions vested in it by this Constitution and the laws.
(Added by Law N 5704, June 5, 1975).

Article 10

A specialized Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice shall declare, by the absolute majority vote of its members, the unconstitutionality of provisions of any nature and acts subject to Public Law. The jurisdictional acts of the Judicial Branch, the declaration of the elections by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal and any others acts established by law cannot be challenged following this procedure.
This Chamber shall also:
  1. To solve any conflicts of jurisdiction between State branches, including the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, as well as any other entities or bodies established by law.
  2. To hear any consultations on constitutional amendment bills, ratification of international agreements or treaties and other bills, as provided by law.
(As amended by Law N� 7128, August 18, 1989. See also the Transitory Provisions concerning this Article, included hereinafter in the section of Transitory Provisions).

Article 11

Public officials are mere depositories of authority and cannot usurp powers which the law has not vested in them. They must take an oath to observe and comply with this Constitution and the laws. The action to establish their criminal liability for their acts is public.

Article 12

The Army as a permanent institution is abolished. There shall be the necessary police forces for surveillance and the preservation of the public order.

Military forces may only be organized under a continental agreement or for the national defense; in either case, they shall always be subordinate to the civil power: they may not deliberate or make statements or representations individually or collectively.