Forum mainstreams federalism with Iraqi academics

Iraqi participants who attended the Forum of Federations’ third course on federalism gather for a photo at the conclusion of the workshop, held Feb. 11-24 in Amman, Jordan.

The Forum of Federations held its third federalism course for 24 Iraqi professors of law and political science and seven other Iraqi government officials.

This marked the close of the first phase of the Forum’s work in Iraq under a $2 million project funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).

The two-week course took place in Amman, Jordan, from Feb. 11 to 24, 2008, and included course presentations and comparative discussions on federal structures, which were presented by the Amman-based Ambassadors of South Africa, India, Brazil and an official from the Embassy of Belgium.

The completion of this third course enabled the Forum to realize its objective of training a critical mass of 70 Iraqi academics. They are to serve as an indigenous capacity-building resource for educating Iraq’s future leaders and educators.

Other objectives of the Forum’s work in Iraq include the development of federalism materials in Arabic and Kurdish, printed and distributed in Iraq; fostering the development of an Iraqi course curriculum on federalism for the country’s 21 universities; sponsoring the creation of an Iraqi association for federal studies and creating a bilingual website for the association (iraqcfs.org), which was also recently launched.

The website is intended to facilitate networking among trained academics, and for them to post their research and announce the activities of the newly-formed association. Its purpose is also to foster an Internet-based discussion forum among the experts, and enable Iraqi researchers to continue learning about their constitution.

The seven Iraqi government officials attending the training were from the Advisory Commission of the Prime Minister’s Office, the Council of Ministers’ Secretariat and the Ministry of Higher Education.
In the next phase of the Iraq project, the Forum plans to:

* organize a national conference of federalism experts in Iraq,
* provide federalism training to 70 senior federal government officials and 70 officials from the Kurdistan Regional Government and from Iraq’s governorates, which are sub-national units resembling provinces or states.

The two weeks of training was provided by five subject matter experts, Dr. David Cameron, the chair of the political science department at the University of Toronto; William Spencer, a U.S. consultant in judicial reform and constitutional issues who has worked in Baghdad since 2005; Dr. Marie-Joelle Zahar, professor of political science at the Université de Montréal; Dr. Richard Simeon, professor of political science at the University of Toronto and visiting professor as Harvard University; and Dr Violeta Ruiz Almendral, professor of taxation law at Carlos III University in Madrid.

The events were organized and managed by Marc Lemieux, the Forum’s Director for the Middle East.

The CIDA funding has enabled the Forum to deepen its involvement in Iraq, where its experts have provided advice on the drafting of constitutional elements related to federal governance since early 2005.

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