Democratic control over National Armed Forces

Democratic civil control of the National Armed Forces (NAF) is stipulated by the legislation of the Republic of Latvia. These legal documents include the Constitution of the Republic of Latvia (Satversme), the National Armed Forces Law, the National Security Law and others.

Latvian legislation sets forth the general principle for democratic civil control of military structures by stipulating that the NAF cannot undertake any combat military operations without consent of the state's political leadership. 
 
The civil control of NAF is carried out by:
 
Parliament (Saeima): 

• adopts the necessary legislation; 
• decides on the National Defence Budget; 
• decides on the participation of the NAF units in international peacekeeping and security operations abroad, as well as international military operations the purpose of which is to implement inalienable rights to collective self-defence of the Member States of the United Nations defined in Article 51 of the United Nations Charter; 
• defines the size of the NAF in peace-time; 
• appoints and dismisses the NAF Commander; 
• the Parliament carries out parliamentary control of the NAF through the Parliamentary Defence, Internal Affairs and Corruption Prevention Committee and the Parliamentary Budget and Finance Committee; 
• approves the National Security Concept and the National Defence Concept; 
• decides on the declaring of war and the commencing of war; 
• assesses the validity of the declared emergency situation, state of exception and mobilisation; 
• reviews the Prime Minister’s Annual Report on National Security.

 
Defence, Internal Affairs and Corruption Prevention Committee: 

• reviews and assesses the conformity of the requested budget with the NAF Development Plan, Armament Plan and Latvian international commitments in the fields of defence and military co-operation; 
• possesses legal rights to summon and hear out the NAF Commander on any issue related to the NAF activities; 
• controls the implementation of the demands prescribed in laws, Cabinet of Ministers Regulations and Defence Regulations.

Budget and Finance Committee: 

• assesses accuracy of budgetary calculations.

Cabinet of Ministers: 

• organises the implementation of laws and resolutions related to defence issues; 
• approves the National Defence Plan; 
• issues normative documents that apply to defence issues, upon the recommendation of the Minister of Defence, appoints and dismisses the NAF Joint Headquarters Commander and the National Guard Commander; 
• approves a list of state objects important for national defence; 
• decides on participation of the NAF units in international rescue and humanitarian operations, as well as military exercises (manoeuvres) abroad; 
• announces emergency situations, states of exception and mobilisations as defined by law; 
• approves the NAF long-term and medium-term development plans, as well as the NAF mobilisation plan.

 
State President: 

• is the NAF Commander-in-Chief; 
• sets up the State President’s Military Council; 
• recommends the NAF Commander for approval at the Parliament; 
• heads the work of the National Security Council; 
• commissions and promotes the first officer rank (lieutenant); 
• proposes the issue of the declaration and commencement of war for decision in the parliament; 
• appoints the NAF Commander-in-Chief in wartime.

Minister of Defence: 

• is a civilian according to Latvian legislation; 
• is politically responsible to the Parliament and subordinated to the Prime Minister; 
• approves the National Defence Operational Plan; 
• concludes international agreements on military issues according to the procedures prescribed by the law; 
• being a Government member, is responsible for ensuring democratic civil control of the armed forces. 
NAF Commander: 
• is directly subordinated to the Minister of Defence; 
• ensures continuous management of the NAF, planning of tasks and control of the fulfilment thereof; 
• is responsible for the NAF military preparedness, battle and mobilisation readiness, as well as readiness for the fulfilment of the determined tasks; 
• is responsible for the readiness of the National Defence Operational Plan and National Armed Forces in terms of state defence regulating document draft and ensuring the execution thereof; 
• is responsible for well-timed submission of a demand for personnel composition, material, technical and financial resources required for the fulfilment of the tasks of the National Armed Forces to the Minister of Defence, as well as expedient use of these resources.

National Security Council: 

• advisory council consisting of the State President, the Chairman of the Parliament, the Chairman of the Parliamentary Defence, Internal Affairs and Corruption Prevention Committee, the Chairman of the Parliamentary National Security Committee, the Prime Minister, the Minister of Defence, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of the Interior; 
• coordinates a single state policy in the field of national defence implemented by the supreme state institutions and officials, as well as reviews the process and problems of its improvement; 
• reviews the National Defence Concept and National Defence Plan, as well as State Threat Analysis.

Judicial System: 

• During peace-time, violations committed by the NAF soldiers are subject to the State Civil Court system. If a state of exception or a state of war is declared in the country, a court martial starts working upon an order of the Minister of Justice; 
• Within the framework of the Ministry of Defence, the Inspectors General of the NAF and the Ministry of Defence ensure control over the implementation of legislation, Cabinet of Ministers Regulations and Military Regulations at the NAF; 
• The disciplinary responsibilities of soldiers are regulated by Cabinet Regulation No.947 of 5 October 2010 "Regulations of Soldier and Civil Guard Military Discipline"; 
• Every soldier has the right to justice and the right to plead his or her case in court if civil rights have been violated (except where restrictions apply according to military service legislation); 
• Every soldier has the right to make suggestions or to complain to his or her immediate commander or superior commander or chief, including the Minister of Defence.

Citizens of the Republic of Latvia:

• Citizens of the Republic of Latvia execute their civil rights and duties by participation in Parliamentary elections, by serving in the active military service as professional soldiers, as well as by fulfilling the duties related with mobilisation according to the procedures prescribed by the law; 
• In compliance with procedures stipulated by the Ministry of Defence, the citizens of the Republic of Latvia have the right to acquaint themselves with the location of military units, visit deployed units, and acquaint themselves with the living conditions of soldiers, as well as with their maintenance and military training; 
• Residents of Latvia receive information on the NAF through the mass media. The law provides that the mass media are guaranteed truthful and transparent information on the NAF, and the right to criticise it; 
• The Ministry of Defence informs the public about the national defence and security issues on a regular basis.

The strengthening of the democratic civil control of the armed forces ensures transparency and availability of information, as well as the obligations and accountability of the main state and public administration institutions and officials.  Therefore, the Ministry of Defence not only aspires to provide the public with information on state defence, the activities of the NAF and budget expenditure, but also ensures the participation of the main Parliamentary Committee members in the forming of the national defence policy. 

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