Oath of office

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An oath of office is an oath or affirmation a person takes before officially assuming an office. Most of the time an oath of office is taken before assuming an office for the state or for some religion. It is usually administered at an inauguration, coronation, enthronement, or other ceremony of taking up office.

Oaths of office are usually a statement of loyalty to a constitution or other legal text, as well as an oath to the state or religion the office holder will be serving. It is often considered treason or a high crime to betray a sworn oath of office.

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[edit] Brazil

The affirmation required by the Brazilian Constitution to be taken by the President-elect upon entering into office is as follows:

"I promise to preserve, defend and uphold the Constitution, observe the Laws, promote the general welfare of the Brazilian people, and to sustain the union, the integrity and the independence of Brazil".

The Vice-president is required to take the same pledge.

The affirmations of office required of members of Congress are specifyed in the rules of procedure of each House, and the internal rules of the Federal Supreme Court sets out the affirmation that must be taken by justices upon their investiture. Other judges make different affirmations, as provided for by law or in the internal rules of each Court.

The Constitution and laws of the several States and the organic laws of the municipalities also specify affirmations that must be made by the key officers of those entities.

[edit] Germany

The oath of office of the President, Chancellor, and the members of the federal government of Germany is as follows:

I swear (or affirm) that I will dedicate my efforts to the well-being of the German people, promote their welfare, protect them from harm, uphold and defend the Basic Law and the laws of the Federation, perform my duties conscientiously, and do justice to all. So help me God.

The religious affirmation may be omitted. The first chancellor to do this was Gerhard Schröder in 1998.

Each of the 16 Länder (states) has its own oath of office for the Governors and Ministers, also for the state employees.

The oath for soldiers in Germany reads as follows:

I swear (conscripts: vow) to serve loyally the Federal Republic of Germany and to defend bravely the justice and freedom of the German people. So help me God (the religious affirmation is not added for conscripts since the vow is not an actual oath).

The oath for federal employees:

I swear to protect the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany and all valid laws within the Federal Republic and to fulfill my duties of the office faithfully, so help me God.

[edit] Ghana

The oath of office of the President of Ghana is as follows:

I, (name), having been elected to the high office of President of the Republic of Ghana do in the name of the Almighty God swear (or do solemnly affirm) that I will be faithful and true to the Republic of Ghana; that I will at all times preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the Republic of Ghana; and that I dedicate myself to the service and well-being of the people of the Republic of Ghana and to do right to all manner of persons.
I further solemnly swear (or solemnly affirm) that should I at any time break this oath of office I shall submit myself to the laws of the Republic of Ghana and suffer the penalty for it.

For members of the Parliament of Ghana, the oath is:

I, (name), having been elected a member of Parliament do in the name of the Almighty God swear (or do solemnly affirm) that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the Republic of Ghana as by law established; that I will uphold, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the Republic of Ghana; and that I will faithfully and conscientiously discharge the duties of a member of Parliament.

[edit] Hong Kong

The oath of office for the Chief Executive is as follows:

I, [Name], swear that, in the office of Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China, I will uphold the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China, bear allegiance to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China and serve the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region conscientiously, dutifully, in full accordance with the law, honestly and with integrity, and be held accountable to the Central People's Government of the People's Republic of China and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

The oath of office for the Principal Officials is as follows:

I swear that, in the office of ................. of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China, I will uphold the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China, bear allegiance to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China and serve the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region conscientiously, dutifully, in full accordance with the law, honestly and with integrity.

The oath of office for the unofficial members of the Executive Council is as follows:

I swear that, being appointed to the Executive Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China, I will uphold the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China, bear allegiance to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China and serve the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region conscientiously, dutifully, in full accordance with the law, honestly and with integrity.

The oath of office for the members of the Legislative Council is as follows:

I swear that, being a member of the Legislative Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China, I will uphold the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China, bear allegiance to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China and serve the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region conscientiously, dutifully, in full accordance with the law, honestly and with integrity.

The oath of office of judges is as follows:

I swear that, in the Office of a Judge of the Judiciary of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China, I will uphold the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China, bear allegiance to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China, serve the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region conscientiously, dutifully, in full accordance with the law, honestly and with integrity, safeguard the law and administer justice without fear or favour, self-interest or deceit.

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[edit] India

The oath of office for the President of India is as follows:

I, [Name] , do swear in the name of God/solemnly affirm that I will faithfully execute the office :of President (or discharge the functions of the President) of India and will to the best of my :ability preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and the law and that I will devote myself to :the service and well-being of the people of India.

The oath of office for the Vice-President of India is as follows:

I, [Name] , do swear in the name of God/solemnly affirm that I will bear true faith and allegiance :to the Constitution of India as by law established and that I will faithfully discharge the duty :upon which I am about to enter.

[edit] Iran

The oath of office for the President of Iran is as follows:

I, as the President, upon the Holy Koran and in the presence of the Iranian Nation, do hereby swear in the name of Almighty God to safeguard the official Faith, the System of the Islamic Republic and the Constitution of the country; to use all my talents and abilities in the discharge of responsibilities undertaken by me; to devote myself to the service of the people, glory of the country, promotion of religion and morality, support of right and propagation of justice; to refrain from being autocratic; to protect the freedom and dignity of individuals and the rights of the Nation recognized by the Constitution; to spare no efforts in safeguarding the frontiers and the political, economic and cultural freedoms of the country; to guard the power entrusted to me by the Nation as a sacred trust like an honest and faithful trustee, by seeking help from God and following the example of the Prophet of Islam and the sacred Imams, Peace be upon them, and to entrust it to the one elected by the Nation after me.

For members of the Parliament of Iran, the oath is:

In the presence of the Holy Koran I swear to God Almighty and undertake upon my human dignity to protect the sanctity of Islam and safeguard the achievements of the Islamic Revolution of Iranian people and the essentials of the Islamic Republic, to uphold the trust placed in us by the Nation as a just trustee, to observe piety and honesty in the discharge of my functions as a representative of the people, to remain always faithful and true to the independence and dignity of the country, protection of rights of the Nation and service to people, to defend the Constitution, and to uphold the independence of the country and the freedom and interests of the people in words, writings and comments.

According to the Iranian Constitution, MPs belonging to religious minorities may swear by the holy books of their respective faiths.

[edit] Philippines

The oath of office of the President of the Philippines is as follows:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully and conscientiously fulfill my duties as President of the Philippines, preserve and defend its Constitution, execute its laws, do justice to every man, and consecrate myself to the service of the Nation. So help me God. (The last sentence is to be omitted if making an affirmation.)

[edit] Portugal

The Constitution of the Portuguese Republic requires that the following oath be taken by the President-elect upon entering into office:

I swear by my honour faithfully to discharge the functions in which I become invested and to defend, uphold, and see to it that the Constitution of the Portuguese Republic be upheld

[edit] Russia

The oath of office of the President of Russia is as follows:

In performing my duties as the President of the Russian Federation, I pledge to respect and protect the rights and liberties of every citizen; to observe and protect the Constitution of the Russian Federation; to protect the sovereignty and independence, security and integrity of the state and to serve the people faithfully.

[edit] Singapore

The oath of office of the President of Singapore is as follows:

I, (name), having been elected President of the Republic of Singapore, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully discharge my duties as such to the best of my ability without fear or favor, affection or ill-will, and without regard to any previous affiliation with any political party, and that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the Republic, and that I will preserve, protect, and defend its Constitution.

For members of the Parliament of Singapore, it is:

I, (name), having been elected as a Member of the Parliament of Singapore, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully discharge my duties as such to the best of my ability, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the Republic of Singapore, and that I will preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore.

[edit] South Africa

The oath of office of the President of South Africa is as follows:

In the presence of those assembled here and in full realisation of the high calling I assume as President in the service of the Republic of South Africa I, (name), do hereby swear (or solemnly affirm) to be faithful to the Republic of South Africa, and do solemnly and sincerely promise at all times to promote that which will advance and to oppose all that may harm the Republic; to obey, observe, uphold and maintain the Constitution and all other Law of the Republic; to discharge my duties with all my strength and talents to the best of my knowledge and ability and true to the dictates of my conscience; to do justice to all; and to devote myself to the well-being of the Republic and all its people. (So help me God)

For members of the Parliament of South Africa, the oath is:

I, (name), do hereby swear (or solemnly affirm) to be faithful to the Republic of South Africa and solemnly promise to perform my functions as a member of the National Assembly/National Council of Provinces to the best of my ability. (So help me God)

[edit] Spain

The Spanish Constitution requires the King to take the following oath as soon as practicable after ascending to the Throne and before performing any other official duty:

juramento de desempeñar fielmente sus funciones, guardar y hacer guardar la Constitución y las leyes y respetar los derechos de los ciudadanos y de las Comunidades Autónomas.

I swear faithfully to discharge My functions, to sustain and see to it that the Constitution and the Laws are sustained, and to respect the rights of the citizens and of the autonomous communities.

The heir to the Crown, upon becoming of age, and any Regents, upon taking office, are required by the Constitution to take the same oath, adding to it a vow of allegiance to the King.

[edit] United Kingdom

[edit] Coronation Oath

The Coronation Oath (from the Order of Service for the Coronation of the sovereign, here presumed to be a Queen) is administered in the form of questions:

Archbishop of Canterbury: Will you solemnly promise and swear to govern the Peoples of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and of your Possessions and the other Territories to any of them belonging or pertaining, according to their respective laws and customs?

Queen: I solemnly promise so to do.

Archbishop: Will you to your power cause Law and Justice, in Mercy, to be executed in all your judgements?

Queen: I will.

Archbishop: Will you to the utmost of your power maintain the Laws of God and the true profession of the Gospel? Will you to the utmost of your power maintain in the United Kingdom the Protestant Reformed Religion established by law? Will you maintain and preserve inviolably the settlement of the Church of England, and the doctrine, worship, discipline, and government thereof, as by law established in England? And will you preserve unto the Bishops and Clergy of England, and to the Churches there committed to their charge, all such rights and privileges, as by law do or shall appertain to them or any of them?

Queen: All this I promise to do.

Then the Queen, arising out of her chair, supported by peers and with the Sword of State being carried before her, goes to the altar, and make her solemn oath in the sight of all the people to observe the premisses by laying her right hand upon the Holy Gospel in the great Bible (which was before carried in the procession and is now brought from the altar by the archbishop, and tendered to her as she kneels upon the steps), saying:

The things which I have here before promised, I will perform and keep. So help me God.

Then the Queen kisses the Bible and signs the Oath.

[edit] Oath of Allegiance and Official Oath

The Oath of Allegiance and the Official Oath, as set out in the Promissory Oaths Act 1868 are required to be taken by various office-holders.

The Oath of Allegiance is in the following form:

“I,NAME , do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and successors, according to law. So help me God.”

The Official Oath is in the following form:

“I, NAME , do swear that I will well and truly serve Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth in the office of ... So help me God.”


The oath of allegiance and official oath shall be tendered to and taken by each of the following office-holders as soon as may be after his acceptance of office:-

The oath as to England is to be tendered by the Clerk of the Council, and taken in presence of Her Majesty in Council, or otherwise as Her Majesty shall direct.

The oath as to Scotland is to be tendered by the Lord President of the Court of Session at a sitting of the Court.

Section 84 of the Scotland Act 1998 requires Members of the Scottish Parliament to take the oath of allegiance at a meeting of the Parliament. Members of the Scottish Executive and junior Scottish Ministers are required to take the official oath (and the oath of allegiance if not already taken as an MSP)

Section 20 of the Government of Wales Act 1998 requires Members of the Welsh Assembly to take the oath of allegiance. A Welsh form of the oath is prescribed by the National Assembly for Wales (Oath of Allegiance in Welsh) Order 1999.

[edit] Judicial Oath

“I, NAME , do swear that I will well and truly serve our Sovereign Lady Queen Elizabeth in the office of , and I will do right to all manner of people after the laws and usages of this realm, without fear or favour, affection or ill will. So help me God.”

The Judicial Oath and the oath of allegiance (see above) are to be taken by each of the following-

[edit] United States

In the United States, the oath of office for the President of the United States is specified in the U.S. Constitution (Article II, Section 1):

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

The oath may be sworn or affirmed. Although not present in the text of the Constitution, it has been conventional for Presidents to add "so help me God" at the end of the oath. George Washington did this at his inauguration in 1789. <ref>April 30, 1789 http://www.aoc.gov/aoc/inaugural/inaug_fact.cfm </ref>

The Constitution specifies in Article VI, clause 3:

"The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."

For other officials, including members of Congress, it specifies they "shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation to support this constitution." At the start of each new U.S. Congress, in January of every odd-numbered year, those newly elected or re-elected Congressmen - the entire House of Representatives and one-third of the Senate - must recite an oath:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.

This oath is also taken by the Vice President, members of the Cabinet, and all other civil and military officers and federal employees other than the President. While the oath-taking dates back to the First Congress in 1789, the current oath is a product of the 1860s, drafted by Civil War-era members of Congress intent on ensnaring traitors.

In 1789, the First United States Congress had reworked the constitutional requirement into a simple fourteen-word oath: "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support the Constitution of the United States." It also passed the Judiciary Act of 1789, which established an additional oath taken by Supreme Court justices and district court judges:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm), that I will administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent on me, according to the best of my abilities and understanding, agreeably to the Constitution, and laws of the United States. So help me God.

The outbreak of the Civil War quickly transformed the routine act of oath-taking into one of enormous significance. In April of 1861, a time of uncertain and shifting loyalties, President Abraham Lincoln ordered all federal civilian employees within the executive branch to take an expanded oath. When Congress convened for a brief emergency session in July, members echoed the president's action by enacting legislation requiring employees to take the expanded oath in support of the Union. This oath is the earliest direct predecessor of the modern version of the oath.

When Congress returned for its regular session in December 1861, members who believed that the Union had as much to fear from northern traitors as southern soldiers again revised the oath, adding a new first section known as the "Ironclad Test Oath." The war-inspired Test Oath, signed into law on July 2, 1862, required "every person elected or appointed to any office ... under the Government of the United States ... excepting the President of the United States" to swear or affirm that they had never previously engaged in criminal or disloyal conduct. Those government employees who failed to take the 1862 Test Oath would not receive a salary; those who swore falsely would be prosecuted for perjury and forever denied federal employment.

The 1862 oath's second section incorporated a different rendering of the hastily drafted 1861 oath. Although Congress did not extend coverage of the Ironclad Test Oath to its own members, many took it voluntarily. Angered by those who refused this symbolic act during a wartime crisis, and determined to prevent the eventual return of prewar southern leaders to positions of power in the national government, congressional hard-liners eventually succeeded by 1864 in making the Test Oath mandatory for all members.

The Senate then revised its rules to require that members not only take the Test Oath orally, but also that they "subscribe" to it by signing a printed copy. This condition reflected a wartime practice in which military and civilian authorities required anyone wishing to do business with the federal government to sign a copy of the Test Oath. The current practice of newly sworn senators signing individual pages in an oath book dates from this period.

As tensions cooled during the decade following the Civil War, Congress enacted private legislation permitting particular former Confederates to take only the second section of the 1862 oath. An 1868 public law prescribed this alternative oath for "any person who has participated in the late rebellion, and from whom all legal disabilities arising therefrom have been removed by act of Congress." Northerners immediately pointed to the new law's unfair double standard that required loyal Unionists to take the Test Oath's harsh first section while permitting ex-Confederates to ignore it. In 1884, a new generation of lawmakers quietly repealed the first section of the Test Oath, leaving intact the current affirmation of constitutional allegiance.

The oaths of state and local officials are largely patterned on these. Typical would be the oath taken by all New York government officials:

I solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support the Constitution of the United States, and the Constitution of the State of New York, (and the Charter of the City of New York, e.g.), and that I will faithfully discharge the duties of the office of (mayor of the City of New York, e.g.) to the best of my ability. (so help me God is traditionally added)

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

[edit] References

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Oath of office

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