Overview of Treaty Implementation Regime in Uganda, by Jimmy. M. Muyanja

The current Uganda Constitution was promulgated on 8th October 1995.  The Constitution[1] and the Ratification of Treaties Act, constitute the municipal law on treaties within Uganda[2]

The Constitution lists 29 National Objective and Directive Principles on State Policy.  Objective and Principle 28 relates to Uganda’s Foreign Policy.

Uganda’s Foreign Policy is to respect international law and treaty obligations[3], which override municipal law[4].  Ugandan courts will to this extent accord treaty policy benefits to individuals thereby negating oppressive municipal law provisions[5].

The State and all persons making policy decisions are bound to take into account the Objectives and Principles so as to promote the establishment of a just, free and democratic society[6].

The President must report to Parliament and the nation at least once a year, on steps taken to ensure realization of the Objectives and Principles[7].

Any treaties, which had been signed, affirmed or in force, prior to promulgation of the Constitution still bind and have the force of law in Uganda[8].  Treaty provisions, will prevail in case of any conflict arising from domestication legislation[9].  In the same vein municipal legislation[10] and judicial practice must conform to treaty provisions[11].

Effective 8th October 1995, Uganda can only conclude treaties or conventions, only after the Attorney General has issued legal advice[12].  The Constitution divests the Attorney General of any discretion to conclude any treaty, where the party is a foreign government, government agency or an international organization[13].

Parliament’s ratification jurisdiction is reserved for treaties on armistice, neutrality, peace or the subject of which require amendment of the Constitution[14].  All other treaties are ratified by Cabinet[15].

The Minister for Foreign Affairs executes all ratified treaties[16] and is the Ugandan depository officer for all treaties to which Uganda is a party[17].

The Attorney General must table, before Parliament[18], any ratified Treaty.

[1] Promulgated on 8th October 1995.

[2] Cap.204, effective from 13th March 1998.

[3] Objective XXVIII Constitution.

[4] Concorp International Ltd v. East and Southern Development Bank,  [2010] UGSC 19.

[5] Deepak K. Shah v Manurama, http://www.ulii.org/ug/judgment/2002/19.

Uganda Law Society v A.G, [2009] UGCC 1.

[6] Objective I (i) Constitution.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Art.287 Constitution.

[9] Testmony Motors Ltd v Comissioner Customs Uganda Revenue Authority, http://www.ulii.org/ug/judgment/2011/47.

[10] Pearl Impex (U) Ltd v. A.G., http://www.ulii.org/ug/judgment/2011/58.

[11] Akidi Margaret v. Adong Lilly, Electoral Commission, [2011] UGHC 57.

[12] Art.119(5) Constitution.

[13] Art.119(6) Constitution.

[14] S.2(b)(i) & (ii) Cap.204.  See Legal Notice No.9 of 2001, on the Resolution by Parliament to ratify the African Union Treaty.  Pentecostal Assemblies of God (U) Ltd v. Transsahara International (U) Ltd, [2012] UGSC 12.

[15] S.2(a) Cap.204.

[16] S.3 Cap.204.

[17] S.5 Cap.204.

[18] S.4 Cap.204.  Supra fn.9 on African Union Treaty.