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Final Act of the Viennese Ministerial Conferences (May 15, 1820)

The rules laid out in the German Federal Act were to be quickly supplemented by a Basic Law and "organic Confederal institutions." Just as the Carlsbad Conference of 1819 approved additional measures in support of the Federal Act, the governments of the German states agreed to further regulations of Confederal affairs in the Vienna Final Act of May 15, 1820. The 65 articles were unanimously approved by the Frankfurt Confederal Assembly on June 8, 1820.

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The sovereign princes and free cities of Germany, mindful of the obligation they assumed upon founding the German Confederation to safeguard, through supplementary and explanatory basic laws, an appropriate development for the provisions of the Confederal Act and thereby [also to safeguard] the Confederal Union itself, convinced that they, in order to strengthen indissolubly the bond that ties the whole of Germany in freedom and harmony, may no longer hesitate to perform that obligation and do justice to a generally felt need through mutual deliberations, have to this end appointed the following plenipotentiaries:

(There follow the names of the plenipotentiaries)

who, after properly accrediting their plenary powers, have assembled in Vienna and, after careful and balanced consideration of the reciprocal views, wishes, and proposals of their governments, have arrived at a definitive agreement via the following articles:

Art. 1. The German Confederation is a union under international law of the sovereign German princes and free cities, for the preservation of the independence and inviolability of the states included in its Confederation and for the maintenance of the domestic and external security of Germany.

Art. 2. This union exists domestically as a community of independent states, none dominated by another, with mutual equal rights and obligations by treaty, but externally as a whole power bound in political unity.

Art. 3. The scope and the limits which the Confederation has prescribed for its effectiveness are determined in the Confederal Act, which is the Basic Treaty and the primary Basic Law of this union. In that the same articulates the aims of the Confederation, it simultaneously determines and limits [the Confederation’s] authorizations and obligations.

Art. 4. The entirety of the Confederal membership is authorized to shape and develop the Confederal Act to the extent that fulfillment of the aims listed there make such necessary. But the decisions reached for this reason may not contradict the spirit of the Confederal Act nor deviate from the essential character of the Confederation.

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