Forum of Federations at Geneva Peace Week


Panel Discussion and Networking Reception
Territory and Power in Constitutional Transitions
8 November, 2019
Palais des Nations,

The Forum of Federations, International IDEA and Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation held a panel discussion on “Territory and Power in Constitutional Transitions”. The panel discussed how territorial disputes can be settled through constitutional accommodation. The panel also focused on how decentralized governance can contribute to consolidating peace, and what challenges and potential pitfalls there are. The presentations draw on the knowledge and lessons learned through a multi-year comparative project on the subject, jointly implemented by the Forum of Federation, International IDEA, Centre for Constitutional Transitions, and Manuel Gimenez Abad Foundation. The event also tested the applicability of the main project findings for two specific case studies, the Philippines and Nepal, and reflected on how the project findings could help in managing the constitutional transitions successfully in specific cases.

The rationale of the project was introduced by Rupak Chattopadhyay, President and CEO of the Forum of Federations. Sumit Bisarya, Head of Constitution Building Programme of International IDEA,

commented on the relevance of the project in peace processes around the world, and specifically in the case of South Sudan. Sujit Choudhry, Director of the Center for Constitutional Transitions, researcher at the WZB Berlin School of Social Sciences, and Senior Adviser of the Forum of Federations, who was one of the lead experts of the project, presented the main project findings, lessons learned, and recommendations. Subsequently, Bryony Lau, expert on conflict in Southeast Asia commented on how the findings can be applied in the case of the Philippines, speaking specifically about the quest for autonomy by the Muslim region of Mindanao. Surya Dhungel, former constitutional advisor to the President of Nepal and Senior Advisor of the Forum of Federations, reflected on the constitutional process in Nepal, leading to the federalization of the country. Finally, Andrea Iff, Thematic Advisor, Thematic Unit Democratization, Decentralization and Local Government, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, pondered on the lessons learned by the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, highlighting three factors for the success of constitutional transitions; local ownership, political and economic inclusion, and being humble in these processes. The event was facilitated by Diana Chebenova, Senior Director, Forum of Federations.