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Features of Constitution1

Is there a constitution? Yes
Does the constitution provide for freedom of religion? Yes


Constitution Year 1990
Last Amended not amended
Source UNHCR Refworld
Translation Source is an English translation
Current as of May 11, 2011

Constitution Excerpts (clauses that reference religion)2


…The successive changes of political regimes and of governments have not blunted the determination of the Beninese people to search for, in their own spirit, the cultural, philosophical and spiritual values of civilization which sustain the forms of their patriotism.
-Solemnly affirm our determination by this present Constitution to create a State of law and pluralistic democracy in which the fundamental human rights, public liberties, the dignity of the human being, and justice shall be guaranteed, protected and promoted as the condition necessary for the genuine harmonious development of each Beninese in his temporal and cultural dimension as well as in his spiritual [sic];

Article 2

The Republic of Benin shall be one - indivisible, secular, and democratic.
Its principle shall be: Government of the People, by the People, and for the People.

Article 5

Political parties shall cooperate in the expression of suffrage. They shall be formed and shall freely exercise their activities under conditions determined by the Charter of Political Parties. They must respect the principles of national sovereignty, of democracy, of territorial integrity and of the secularity of the State.

Article 10

Every person has a right to culture. The State has the duty to safeguard and promote the national values of civilizations, as much material as spiritual, as well as the cultural traditions.

Article 14

Religious institutions and communities shall be able to cooperate equally in the education of the youth. Private schools, secular or parochial, may be opened with the authorization and control of the State. The private schools may benefit from state subsidies under conditions determined by law.

Article 23

Every person has the right to freedom of thought, of conscience, of religion, of creed, of opinion and of expression with respect for the public order established by law and regulations. The exercise of a creed and the expression of beliefs shall take place with respect for the secularity of the state.
The institutions and the religious or philosophical communities shall have the right to develop without hindrances. They shall not be subject to the guardianship of the state. They shall regulate and administer their affairs in an autonomous manner.

Article 26

The state shall assure to everyone equality before the law without distinction of origin, of race, of sex, of religion, of political opinion or of social position.
Men and women are equal under the law. The State shall protect the family and particularly the mother and child. It shall take care of handicapped and aged persons.

Article 53

Before taking his office, the President of the Republic shall take the following oath:
"Before God, the Manes [spirits] of the ancestors, the Nation and before the Beninese People, the only holder of sovereignty;
"I, President of the Republic, elected in accordance with the laws of the Republic do solemnly swear
-To respect and defend the Constitution which the Beninese People have freely given to themselves;
-To fulfill loyally the high office that the Nation has entrusted to me;
-To allow myself to be guided only by the general interest and the respect for human rights, to consecrate all my strength to the research and the promotion of the common good, of peace and of national unity;
-To preserve the integrity of the national territory;
-To conduct myself everywhere as a faithful and loyal servant of the people.
In case of perjury, that I shall submit to the severity of the law."
This oath shall be received by the President of the Constitutional Court before the National Assembly and the Supreme Court.

Article 156

No procedure for revision may be instituted or continued when it shall undermine the integrity of the territory.
The republican form of government and the secularity of the State may not be made the object of a revision.


1.  Data under the "Features of Constitution" heading are drawn from coding of the U.S. State Department's 2008 International Religious Freedom Reports conducted by researchers at the Association of Religion Data Archives. The article by Brian Grim and Roger Finke describes the coding of the International Religious Freedom reports. A dataset with these and the other international measures highlighted on the country pages can be downloaded from this website. Used with permission.

2.  The constitutional excerpts shown above are reproduced from the websites given in the "Source" field; the links to these websites were active as of May 2011. Where the constitutional text shown on these websites was provided in a language other than English, this text was translated to English by ARDA staff with assistance from web-based translation utilities such as Google Translate and Yahoo! Babel Fish. Constitutional text was converted to American English where applicable. Constitutional clauses were judged to contain religious content based largely on the standards used in the construction of the Religion and State Constitutions Dataset collected by Jonathan Fox. Emphases were added to the text by ARDA staff to highlight religious content in articles that also contain content that does not pertain to matters of religion. The data on this page were correct to the best of the knowledge of the ARDA as of the date listed in the "Current as of" field shown above. Please contact us at if you are aware of any incorrect information provided on this page.

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