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(Russian, ukaz), in most modern states, an order of the head of state. In its legal content it may be normative—that is, it may establish a new legal norm—or nonnormative, for example, an edict assigning a person to a post or awarding a decoration.
In the USSR, in accordance with the Constitution of the USSR and the constitutions of the Union and autonomous republics, edicts are issued by the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR or by the presidia of the supreme soviets of the Union and autonomous republics. Edicts of a normative character, as well as edicts appointing or dismissing officials and members of government, are subject to approval by the appropriate supreme soviet at a regular session. Edicts of a general normative character enter into force throughout the USSR ten days after their publication in lzvestiia or in Vedomosti Verkhovnogo Soveta SSSR (Bulletin of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR), unless another period is specified in the edict. Edicts of a nonnormative character take effect from the moment of their publication unless another time is established by the edict.
Various terms are used in modern bourgeois states to refer to the concept of edict—for example, decret (French), Verordnung (German), and “order” (English).
(1) In Roman law, an authoritative order or statement issued by a magistrate, especially a praetor, upon assumption of office to present his program. The edict remained in force throughout the magistrate’s term. In practice, the basic legal provisions of the praetorian edict were recopied from year to year and thus took on a general normative character. In the second century A.D., the Roman jurist Salvius Julianus drew up the final text of the praetorian edict.
(2) In the Roman Empire and a number of the medieval monarchies of Western Europe, a type of law issued by the emperor or sovereign. An example of such an edict is the Edict of Nantes, which was issued in 1598 in France.