Initial State Report of the Republic of the Congo to CEDAW

Published: 8/Apr/2002
Source: UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women

Consideration of reports submitted by States parties under article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women

Initial, second, third, fourth and fifth periodic report of States parties

Republic of Congo


In the Republic of the Congo, nationality is governed by Act No. 35-61 of 20 June 1961 setting forth the Congolese Nationality Code, as well as by constitutional rules. The Constitution of 12 March 1992 provides in its article 31 that “every citizen shall have the right to Congolese nationality and may not be arbitrarily deprived thereof or of the right to change his nationality”.

According to article 54 of the Basic Act of 24 October 1997, nationality falls within the purview of the law.

Article 1 of Act No. 35-61 of 20 June 1961 defines nationality as the legal link that attaches individuals to the State. It is independent from civil rights and civil status, which are defined by special laws enacted for that purpose.  Article 2 provides that the present Act determines those individuals that shall have Congolese nationality at birth. The concept “individual” being understood to cover both sexes, the Act does not appear to contain any discrimination as to gender.

After the individual’s birth, Congolese nationality may be acquired or forfeited in application of the Act or pursuant to a decision of the public authorities.  The Act acknowledges the supremacy of international treaties by providing as follows in its article 5: “Provisions relating to nationality contained in duly ratified and published international treaties or agreements shall apply even if they are contrary to the provisions of Congolese domestic law”.

The Act distinguishes between the attribution of nationality at birth (“nationality of origin”) and the acquisition of nationality.

Section II

1. Attribution of nationality

Congolese nationality is attributed, without discrimination as to sex, to a child born in the Congo

–  Of a Congolese father and a Congolese mother;
–  Of a father born in the Congo and a Congolese mother;
–  Of a father and a mother who themselves were born in the Congo.

2. Acquisition of Congolese nationality

Congolese nationality is acquired by virtue of one of the following:

–  Marriage;
–  Residence;
–  Decision of the public authorities.

A.  Acquisition by marriage

Acquisition of Congolese nationality by marriage concerns foreign women who marry a Congolese national. Such women acquire Congolese nationality after five years’ joint residence in the Congo counting from the date of registration of the marriage. Until the expiry of that period, the wife may decline the status of a Congolese citizen under the conditions provided in articles 57 ff. of the Act.

The Act does not specify the status of a Congolese woman who marries a foreigner. In practice, it is established that such women retain their nationality of origin.

B.  Acquisition through birth and residence in the Congo

“Every individual born in the Congo of foreign parents shall acquire Congolese nationality on reaching majority age provided that he is resident in the Congo at that date and has been habitually resident in the Congo since the age of 16 years” (article 20).

C.  Acquisition of Congolese nationality by a decision of the public authorities

This is a matter of naturalization or recovery of previous nationality. Nationalization is granted by a decree following an investigation. No discrimination based on sex appears to exist in this context.

II.  Transmission of nationality to children

A reading of Act No. 35-61 of 20 June 1961 setting forth the Congolese Nationality Code shows that men and women can transmit Congolese nationality to their children under the same conditions. Article 44 of the Act provides that “a minor whose father or mother acquires Congolese nationality shall become a full Congolese citizen like the parents, provided that filiation has been established in accordance with article 12”.

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Themes: Acquisition of nationality, Acquisition by children, Discrimination, Gender
Regions: Central Africa, Republic of Congo
Year: 2002