Case 0015-10-TI

Corte Constitucional para el periodo de Transición, Judgment No. 0006-10-DTI-CC, Case No. 0015-10-TI, February 11, 2010.
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Country: Ecuador
Region: Americas
Year: 2010
Court: Constitutional Court for the Transitional Period [Corte Constitucional para el Período de Transición]
Health Topics: Disabilities, Health care and health services, Health systems and financing
Human Rights: Right to health
Tags: Disabled, Health funding

This case discussed the type of approval necessary for a bilateral health agreement between Ecuador and Venezuela, signed by the Executive Branch. Ecuador’s Executive Branch signed an agreement with Venezuela to provide technical assistance, supplies and other equipment for persons with disabilities.  The President’s Secretary filed an inquiry with the Constitutional Court for the Transitional Period to determine whether legislative approval was necessary for this type of agreement, in accordance with article 109 of the Organic Law of Jurisdictional Guarantees and Constitutional Control and pursuant to the matters contemplated by article 419 of the Constitution of the Republic.

The Court first reproduced the text of the agreement in its judgment. It determined that the President of the Republic was responsible for signing or authorizing treaties or other international instruments, and such authorization constituted the last step before such treaties or instruments could enter into force (whether these were treaties that require advance legislative approval, or instruments that did not require advance legislative approval).

The Court noted that an international treaty must undergo the following procedure: a) Negotiation by the Executive; b) Signature of the Executive; c) Approval of Congress; and, d) Approval by the Executive.

The Court further specified that international agreements dealing with certain subject matters  set for in Article 419 of the Constitution (e.g., territorial matters, establishment of alliances, any commitment to issue, modify or repeal a law, constitutional rights and guarantees, commitment of economic policy, trade, outsourcing internal competencies to a supranational body and commitment of natural resources) required legislative approval.

The Court determined that the a Venezuela-Ecuador bilateral agreement in question constituted  a collaboration, solidarity and reciprocity agreement which aimed to achieve treatment and inclusion objectives for the benefit of a section of the population meriting protection. The agreement in question covered cooperation in a specific area, and thus bore a relationship to the treatment and promotion of a societal sector which was the responsibility of a specialized entity, expressly created for such purposes, and not covered by the matters contemplated in article 419 of the Constitution of the Republic.  Therefore, the international agreement in question did not require advance legislative approval prior to authorization by the President of the Republic.

The Court resolved that:

  1. The Venezuela-Ecuador agreement did not require approval of the National Assembly, and
  2. That the President of the Republic could continue the proceedings to approve the Agreement, subject to examination.

“Esta determinación conlleva por otra parte, a que los compromisos que el Estado adquiera, bilateral o multilateralmente con otros Estados, en materias de otra índole, pueden ser ratificados por el Presidente de la República sin necesidad de aprobación de la Asamblea Nacional.”

“This determination [whether the case requires advance legislative approval] implies, in turn, that the commitments acquired by the State, bilateral or multilaterally with other States in any other matters, can be authorized by the President of the Republic without the need of approval of National Congress.”
“Se trata, en esencia, de un compromiso bilateral entre gobiernos que mantienen similares objetivos de atención a su población que, por sus condiciones especiales, merecen protección adecuada; constituye, por tanto, un acuerdo de colaboración, solidaridad y reciprocidad hacia objetivos de atención e inclusión en beneficio de los pueblos.

La naturaleza del Acuerdo suscrito entre los Estados venezolano y ecuatoriano, como se ha señalado, es de cooperación en un ámbito muy puntual, que tiene relación con la atención y promoción a un sector de la sociedad a cargo de una entidad especializada, creada expresamente para el efecto; materia que no se enmarca entre las previstas en el artículo 419 de la Constitución de la República, que requieren aprobación legislativa, previa a su ratificación por parte del Presidente de la República.”

“This is about, in essence, a bilateral agreement among governments with similar objectives of attention to their population that, because of special conditions, merit adequate protection; this constitutes, therefore, a collaboration, solidarity and reciprocity agreement that aims to achieve treatment and inclusion objectives to the benefit of the peoples.

The nature of the Agreement signed by and among the Venezuelan and Ecuadorian States, as referenced, is of cooperation in a very specific area, and bears a relationship to the treatment and promotion of a sector of society that is the responsibility of a specialized entity, expressly created for these purposes; this subject matter is not covered by those contemplated in article 419 of the Constitution of the Republic, that require advance legislative approval, prior to authorization by the President of the Republic."

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