Legal Materials on Tibet

Future Polity of Tibet (Address by His Holiness the Dalai Lama) (1994) [p.165]



When Tibetans inside and outside Tibet realize the joyful occasion of their reunion, Tibet shall become a nation made up of all its three provinces, and shall be a nation based on the principles of freedom and democracy, upholding the creed of love and compassion, guided by the teachings of Lord Buddha. Its policies shall be based on the principles of justice and equality. Tibet shall be a zone of peace where there shall be full protection of the environment. The legislative, the judiciary and the executive organs of the Tibetan Government shall be independent and vested with equal power and authority. Tibet shall be a multi-party parliamentary democracy. In line with this system of parliamentary democracy, a duly elected citizen of Tibet shall become the supreme head of the country, and shall assume the ensuing responsibility.

As I have always said, Tibet belongs to the Tibetans, especially to those who have remained in Tibet. That being so, in the future democratic Tibet those within Tibet shall, in general, bear the main responsibility of its democratic government. In particular, those Tibetan officials who are presently serving under the Chinese occupation, because of their experience and knowledge, shall have greater responsibility in the running of the Government. As such, it is important that these officials should eschew all feelings of uncertainty and doubt, and dedicate themselves to regaining the freedom of Tibet, while at the same time making efforts towards improving the quality of administration.

Some Tibetans have had to say or do things against their wishes under coercive Chinese influences. However, I see no purpose in inquiring into their past activities. What is vitally important is the happiness of Tibetans as a whole. To this end, all must stand united.

All Tibetans must assume common responsibility to transform the present totalitarian system in Tibet, which actually guarantees no freedom to the people, into a genuinely democratic federal system in accordance with the choice of Tibetans as a whole. I have already decided not to accept any political status in the Government of future Tibet on the basis of the traditional system.

This is not without reason, for it is well known that Tibetans as a whole place great faith and hope in me, and that, for my part, I have an unflinching determination to be of benefit to the Tibetans, both politically and from the religious point of view, in line with my past karma and prayers. In future, without holding any political status in the Government, I shall remain a sort of public figure who might be able to resolve some of the particularly difficult problems which may not be resolved by the existing political mechanism. Also, in order that Tibet shall be able to stand as an equal member in today's community of nations, it is highly important that it should not depend on one single person but reflect the collective consciousness of the Tibetan people. This requires the Tibetan people to take responsibility for their own political destiny. Hence, it is in both the immediate and future interest of the Tibetan people in general, and for a multiplicity of reasons of crucial importance, that I have come to this decision. Therefore Tibetans need not worry that I have slackened in my sense of responsibility for the common good.

Once Tibet regains its freedom, following the withdrawal of the oppressive Chinese regime, there will be a transitional period before the finalization of its constitution, during which the existing Tibetan administration in Tibet shall continue to function with the same Tibetan officials shouldering responsibility. During this transitional period, a President shall be appointed as the interim head of state. He shall be vested with all political powers which are currently held by me. Simultaneously, the Tibetan Government-in-exile shall be deemed to have automatically ceased to exist. All the officials of the dissolved administration shall bear the same responsibility in respect of the affairs of Tibet as any other Tibetan.

Though members of the Tibetan Government-in-exile shall not be officially entitled to any special privileges by virtue of their positions, they may, according to their desire and qualifications, voluntarily accept positions which may be assigned to them and for which they may be thought fit in the transitional administration. The main responsibility of the transitional government shall be to set up by a Constituent Assembly to finalize Tibet's constitution. This Assembly shall comprise members representing the whole of Tibet. These members shall take on the responsibility of the Constituent Assembly and shall finalize Tibet's constitution on the basis of the draft constitution prepared here in exile by the Tibet Constitution Redrafting Committee, which was appointed by me, with the assent of the interim President. Under the provision of this draft constitution, the executive head is empowered to directly set up certain independent bodies, the majority of which shall, after the election of the new Government, be constituted in accordance with the law. At the same time, an Election Commission shall immediately be created, headed by an individual appointed by the interim President in accordance with the law. A comprehensive draft democratic constitution for a free Tibet is under preparation. The power to finalize it shall be vested in the Constituent Assembly of a free Tibet consisting of representatives from the whole of the country. For the purpose of creating awareness and as a basis for the formulation of opinions as to what kind of democratic government Tibet is going to have, I am hereby announcing the guidelines for the framework of the Constitution of free Tibet.

Provisional Order During the Transitional Period

There shall be a transitional period following the withdrawal of the Chinese occupation forces and prior to the formation of a new Government in accordance with the democratic constitution which shall be promulgated.

1. Once Tibet has regained its freedom, an interim President shall hold the executive power during the transitional period. After conferring with the leaders of the various administrative regions of Tibet, the present Tibet Autonomous shall call an emergency meeting which shall comprise representatives from all districts above dzong level throughout Tibet. This meeting shall elect seven nominees as candidates for the interim presidency, one of whom may be named by me. In the event of circumstances which would render nominations through the election process improper or difficult, I shall make a direct appointment for the interim presidency.

2. The elected, or nominated, as the case may be, interim President shall take an oath of office before me.

3. The interim President shall thereafter be vested with all the political powers and responsibilities hitherto incumbent to me.

4. As a part of his responsibility, the interim President shall constitute a Constituent Assembly of Tibet. After debating the draft constitution, this Constituent Assembly shall finalize the constitution of Tibet, within a period of one year.

5. No more than one year shall eclipse from the date of the commencement of the constitution, which shall be enacted in accordance with the procedure outlined above, to the date of the taking of the oath of administration by the members of the Tibetan National Assembly and the President, who will have been duly elected under the responsibility of the Election Committee. The entire interim period shall not exceed two years.

6. The Constituent Assembly of Tibet shall comprise no less than 250 representatives from the cities, towns, districts and other areas of Tibet.

7. The Constituent Assembly of Tibet shall, immediately after the commencement of its meeting, conduct its proceedings in accordance with the following rule of procedure.

8. The interim President shall directly appoint the Chief Election Commissioner and the members of the interim Election Commission which shall conduct the election of the members of the Tibetan National Assembly, its speakers and the President of Tibet, in accordance with the constitution duly enacted by the Constituent Assembly.

9. The Constituent Assembly of Tibet shall automatically be dissolved as of the taking of the oath of affirmation by the members of the Tibetan National Assembly under the duly promulgated constitution of Tibet.

10. Upon conclusion of the first round of elections the Commission and the office of the interim President shall cease to exist as of the taking of the oath of office of affirmation, as the case may be, by the members of the Tibetan National Assembly, its Speakers and the President of Tibet. With this, the democratically elected Government of free Tibet shall commence its business in accordance with the law.

Basic Framework of the Democratic Constitution of Free Tibet

1. Scope and Significance of the Constitution: the constitution shall be the basis of the entire Tibetan polity and the supreme law of the land.

2. Nature of Policy: Tibet shall stand for the benefit and well-being not only of itself but also of its neighboring countries and the whole world. Based on the principles of non-violence, it shall be a free, social welfare-oriented federal, democratic policy, based on principles of the Dharma. It shall ensure full protection of the environment and form a zone of peace.

3. Fundamental Government Policy: the Tibetan Government shall observe and abide by the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights and shall seek to advance the moral and material well-being of its people.

4. Renunciation of Violence and Use of Force: Tibet shall be a zone of peace based on principles of non-violence, love and compassion, and shall be a centre for environmental protection. Tibet shall be neutral and avoid the use of violence for any purpose.

5. Fundamental Rights: all citizens of Tibet shall be equal before the law, and shall be entitled to the enjoyment of all rights and privileges under the law, irrespective of sex, race, language, religion, color, status, and whether he/she is lay or ordained.

6. Other Fundamental Rights: all Tibetans shall have the right to life, liberty and property, the right to freedom of expression, to buy, sell or own land and property, to form associations, the freedom of the press and the publication of periodicals, and the rights of employment in the Government or in an agency thereof.

7. Right to Election and Nomination: all citizens of Tibet, irrespective of sex, shall have the right to nomination and election in accordance with the law.

8. Ownership of Land: the entire territory within the confines of Tibet shall be distributed and used for the benefit of the people, and for their habitation, having due regard to the environment. In providing land to the citizens of Tibet for the purpose of residence, agriculture, animal husbandry, building, manufacture, business or private occupational purposes, the Government shall pay due regard to the requirement of the individual, restricting the concentration of wealth in a few hands. All land not privately owned shall be controlled by the Government.

9. Economic System: Tibet shall have a unique economic system which, without failing into the extremes of capitalism or socialism, shall be in accordance with its requirements. Taxation shall be based on income criteria.

10. Education and Culture: since the progress of society and moral integrity of the citizens depend basically on the standard of education, efforts shall be made to provide appropriate facilities of providing education at all levels, whether higher education, professional institutions, or for technical, scientific and research purposes, by way of implementing a sound education policy.

11. Health: a public health care system shall be established aimed at providing appropriate community health services and medical care.

12. Legislative Power: legislative power shall be vested in the two chambers of the Tibetan National Assembly and the President. Laws passed by the upper and lower chambers of the Assembly shall have to obtain the assent of the President. The lower chamber of the Tibetan National Assembly shall consist of representatives directly elected by the citizens within their respective constituencies, as demarcated in accordance with population distribution. It shall be the highest law-making body. The upper chamber of the Tibetan National Assembly shall consist of members elected by their provincial assemblies and those nominated by the President.

13. Executive Power: 1. executive power shall be vested in the President and the Vice-President elected by the upper and lower chambers of the Tibetan National Assembly in accordance with the law; 2. the Prime Minister shall be elected from the Party or any group constituting the majority of the members of the lower chamber of the Tibetan National Assembly actually present. However, should this recourse fail, the Prime Minister shall be elected by the entire members of the Tibetan National Assembly. The power to exercise executive powers shall rest primarily in the cabinet set up by the Prime Minister.

14. Judicial Power: an independent Supreme Court of Tibet shall be the highest appellate court of justice. The Supreme Court shall be the head of the judiciary, which shall safeguard and decide by interpreting the provision of the constitution, all matters brought before it concerning alleged violation of law, whether before it concerning alleged violations of law, whether by the Government or by citizens, so as to ensure correct and equal dispensation of justice.

15. Provinces: the Tibetan National Assembly shall, after considering all aspects of the situation concerning availability of travel and transport facilities, population and geography, make a province demarcation of Tibet's provinces. In each province a provincial Assembly consisting of members elected by its people shall be vested with the legislative power of the province; a Governor shall be appointed by the President; a cabinet headed by the Chief Minister shall be elected by the provincial Assembly, and a provincial High Court vested with the judicial power of the province. The provincial Assembly shall pass laws and regulations, in accordance with the requirement of the province. Apart from certain matters of crucial significance, the respective provinces shall have the final authority in all matters which concern it.

The democratic constitution of free Tibet may, after certain period of time, be reviewed and amended on the basis of experience gained during its critical application and on the basis of pubic opinion.

To sum up, Tibet, which is located in the heart of Asia and on the Roof of the World between India and China, and whose people are endowed with inborn qualities of honesty, peace and a sense of moral integrity, shall in the future be nation committed to peace and non-violence, based on free democracy, and the health and life of its people shall not be endangered by pollution. Tibet shall be fully equipped to safeguard the integrity of its environment.

Tibet shall have no offensive forces or bases for weapons of destruction, but shall be a nation of peace and harmony.

Today, in some parts of the world, while there are all kinds of material benefits, human values and freedoms have suffered such a degradation that people have virtually become a slave of machines. In general, in most countries, the people lack even basic necessities and are impoverished. Tibet shall be free of these two extremes and its economic system shall provide for the needs of its people. It shall plan for a just development, fulfilling all the basic needs of its people.

Tibet shall not be influenced or swayed by the policies and ideologies of other countries but remain a neutral state in true sense of the term. It shall maintain harmonious relationships with its neighbors on equal terms for their mutual benefits. It shall maintain a cordial and fraternal relationship with all nations, without any sense of hostility or enmity. Such an ideal state of affairs requires that all right-thinking and loyal Tibetans must strive to achieve it with a joyful sense of dedication and determination.

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