Fifth International Conference on Federalism

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 13–16 December 2010

Ethiopia hosted the 5th International Conference on Federalism from 13-16 December 2010 in Addis Ababa, in partnership with the Forum of Federations. The theme of the 5th International Conference on Federalism, ‘Equality and Unity in Diversity for Development’,
reflected the need for sustainable development in federal, federalizing or decentralizing countries in Africa and other non-Western regions. Sustainable development requires equality and unity in diversity, qualities necessary for the emergence and sustenance
of social peace and democracy.

Topics of the Conference

The topics and themes for the conference followed the well established tradition of concentrating on topics that are relevant to the host country as well as to federal, federalizing and decentralizing countries in the region and around the world. The
theme ‘Equality and Unity in Diversity for Development’ was discussed under five topics:

Topic 1: Federalism and the Democratization Process

  • What conditions make federalism a necessary form of state, and what are the major constitutional and institutional challenges to federal states in the initial stages?
  • How do newly federalizing and democratizing countries address the challenges of bridging the gap between democratic federal institutions and authoritarian political cultures?
  • What are the roles of domestic and external actors (civic, financial, political, etc.) in facilitating or frustrating the federalization and democratization processes?

Topic 2: The Impacts of Regionalization and Globalization on Federations

  • What is the impact of sub-regionalization, regionalization and globalization on federations?
  • What lessons could be learned from the experience of federal systems under developed regional arrangements elsewhere in the world for the design and operation of regional integration in Africa and other regions of the world?
  • What lessons can be learned from the practices followed in the course of international cooperation involving federal type states?

Topic 3: Unity in Diversity through Federalism

  • How can the imperatives of unity and diversity be reconciled during the formation of federations?
  • What kinds of policies are favorable for maintaining unity in diversity in the operation of a federation?
  • How can federations protect and accommodate minorities and disadvantaged groups?

Topic 4: Federalism and Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution Mechanisms

  • What factors have proven key to the success (or failure) of federalism to play its potential role in reversing deep-rooted conflict?
  • What have been the experience and results in the use of ‘last resort’ mechanisms (e.g., courts, second chambers) in resolving significant conflicts in federations?
  • What lessons can be learned from how federations deal with security matters, including intergovernmental relations and traditional institutions and practices at the national and other levels?

Topic 5: Fiscal Federalism and Equitable Development

  • What factors can guide the assignment of responsibilities and revenue-raising powers towards promoting equitable development and reducing potential fiscal conflicts?
  • How can federations promote fiscal responsibility, accountability and transparency in a context of fiscal interdependence between levels of government?
  • How can federations or potential federations work to reconcile regional and national interests, both economic and environmental, in natural resources such as oil, gas, minerals, water and forests?