Conference on Participatory Federalism and Decentralization: From Framework to Functionality

(L-R)Dr. Zakir Hussain, Vice Chancellor for Government College University, Lahore, Prof. Dr. Mohammad Nizamuddin, Chair, Conference Organizing Committee/Vice Chancellor, University of Gujrat / Chair, Inter-University Consortium for Promotion of Social Sciences
Chief Guest: Riaz Hussain Pirzada, Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination, Mr. Nicholas Rosellini, Deputy Assistant Administrator & Deputy Regional Director, Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific, UNDP, Marc-André Franche Country Director UNDP, Pietro Merlo, Senior Advisor, Forum of Federations

The Forum of Federations in collaboration with the UNDP Pakistan held an international conference on Participatory Federalism and Decentralization in Islamabad, on 25-27 September, 2013.

The conference was organized in support of Pakistan’s 18th Constitutional Amendment, the landmark legislation, which has provided a legal framework to enable democratic transition and power sharing in Pakistan. The amendment has introduced a distinction between powers allocated to the central government and provincial governments – devolving power and competences to the provinces, increasing their share of responsibility and revenue, inter alia, in the field of labor, health, education, food and agriculture, environment, minority affairs and population.

The core objective of the Conference was to enrich the conceptual and technical understanding of practitioners and stakeholders on different dimensions of federalism and decentralization of legal, political, economic and administrative powers in Pakistan and bringing in global perspectives and experiences from a wide array of political, economic and legal experts who have worked and conducted research on federalism, devolution and decentralization.
The Forum utilizing its global network of federal and decentralization expertise, brought to the conference 6 international experts from various fields of federal and decentralized governance to offer their observations and experiences.

The Forum staff and experts participated in the following sessions during the conference:

Opening Ceremony:
Pietro Merlo, Senior Advisor, Forum of Federations seconded by the German Government

Session 1: Participatory Federalism: Global Perspectives and Local Linkages
The Transition to Democracy in Ethiopia The Importance of Federalist Principles and Practices
– Maeregu Habtemariam Kazentet, Senior Program Manager, Forum of Federations, Ethiopia

Session 2: Is Federalism Gendered? Incorporating Gender into Studies of Federalism
– Dr. Vickers Jill, Professor, Carleton University, Canada

Session 3: Participatory Local Governance: Capacity, Resources, and Innovations
What can local government be? Ways of addressing the capacity gap
– Dr. Roberta Ryan, Director, Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government, Australia

Session 4: Fiscal Federalism: How to Operationalize Economy of Autonomy?
Fiscal Federalism & Inter-Governmental Relations: A case study of Russian Federation with Learning for Pakistan
– Galina Kurlyandskaya, Director General, Center for Fiscal Policy, Russian Federation

Session 5: Political Economy of Inter-Governmental Relations in a Federal Framework: Lessons Learnt and Way Forward
The Evolution of Federal-Provincial Relations in Canada: Some lessons for Pakistan
– Rachel Laforest, Associate Professor, Queens University, Canada
Federalism: Combining Unity and Diversity A German Case Study
– Reinold Herber, Senior Advisor, Forum of Federations, Germany
Discussant
– Phillip Gonzalez, Program Manager, Forum of Federations

The Conference was an overwhelming success as national and provincial government representatives from across the country, colleagues from civil society, academia as well as the international development community debated this vital moment for Pakistan – the implementation of the 18th Amendment.

Pakistan is an important partner of the Forum. Its liaison partner is the Federal Ministry for Inter Provincial Coordination, Government of Pakistan.

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