International Conference on Participatory Federalism and Decentralization

Sep 25, 2013

Participatory Federalism and Decentralization are becoming an increasingly decisive topic as the pillars of Pakistan’s democratic transition, especially against the backdrop of the 18th Constitutional Amendment. This Amendment was passed unanimously in both Houses of the parliament and is a rare example of political consensus in the country. There are 28 federal countries in the world today, which together represent 40 per cent of the world's population. They include some of the largest and most complex democracies - India, the US, Brazil, Pakistan, Germany and Mexico.

Therefore, seeking the opportunity to share global and regional experiences, and to highlight and develop a way forward in promoting participatory federalism and decentralization in Pakistan, the Ministry of Inter-Provincial Coordination, the Forum of Federations, the Higher Education Commission, the Inter-University Consortium on the Promotion of Social Sciences and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Pakistan jointly organized an International Conference “Participatory Federalism and Decentralization: From Framework to Functionality.”

This 3-day international conference on Participatory Federalism and Decentralization inaugurated today with Mr. Riaz Hussain Pirzada, Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination as the chief guest.

Mr. Nicholas Rosellini, Deputy Assistant Administrator and Deputy Regional Director Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific, UNDP inaugurated the conference. He said that “Pakistan was able to reach consensus on federalism as a system through a journey of continuous democratic struggle and debate over the last six decades. The 18th Amendment has set new directions for Pakistan as a federal, democratic and parliamentary state – and this has rightly been taken as a point of celebration for the proponents of federalism throughout the world. In this most important endeavor, and at the request of the Government of Pakistan, UNDP is pleased to support the Government and the people of Pakistan in this process.”

Speaking at the occasion, Mr. Riaz Hussain Pirzada, Federal Minister Inter-Provincial Coordination said that “the Charter of Democracy emerged as the Magna-Carta of Pakistan and laid the foundations for a strong democratic culture in Pakistan. It served as the basis of the 18th Constitutional Amendment which was passed by unanimous consensus amongst political parties.”

In his welcome remarks, Mr. Marc-André Franche, Country Director UNDP in Pakistan said, “The way the federation will tackle the implementation of the 18th Amendment will ensure the viability of Pakistan as a country and its capacity to achieve the MDGs and fight poverty.”

Mr. Taj Haider, General Secretary, Pakistan Peoples Party, said that “The historic event of passing of the 18th amendment is symbolic of unprecedented cooperation and consensus between Pakistan’s political parties. I want to assure the delegates present here that democracy and federalism have established firm roots in Pakistan. I have complete confidence that all of us will learn from sharing our experiences.”

The focus areas of this conference include engagement of international and national academia, development actors, policy makers, legislators and civil society in developing and sharing knowledge base on participatory federalism, inter-governmental relations, decentralization and inclusive governance with focus on the 18th Constitutional Amendment. It will also seek to provide interface between research community and policy forums including political parties and civil bureaucracy at federal and provincial levels for informed and effective transition management of devolution. It will deepen the understanding of donors’ community and civil society by unpacking the implications of 18th Amendment with focus on social sector governance in Pakistan aimed at ensuring aid effectiveness. 

The conference is unique and diverse in its nature as it brings together key international and national policy makers, think tanks, parliamentarians, academia, research community, policy forums, and civil society representatives from Pakistani and international community.

The first session on Participatory Federalism: Global Perspectives and Local Linkages was chaired by Senator Raza Rabbani, former Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Reforms. The objective of this session was sharing global/regional experiences on participatory federalism and understanding the evolving perspectives of federalism in Pakistan.

The speakers included Mr. Maeregu Habtemariam Kazentet, former Ethiopian State Minister of the Ministry of Federal Affairs , Paul Molloy, Deputy High Commissioner, Australia, Thusitha Pilapitiya, Local Government Advisor, Asia-Pacific Regional Centre, UNDP, Atul Shekhar of UNDP Afghanistan, Dr. M. Waseem, professor, Lahore University of Management Sciences and Dr. Rasheed Khan, Dean Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Sargodha.

The conference is holding five additional sessions, on different aspects of federalism & decentralization, over the next three days. In the coming days, the following themes will be discussed:

  1. Local Governance and Development Outcomes: Frameworks of Institutional Interplay
  2. Participatory Local Governance: Capacity, Resources, and Innovations
  3. Fiscal Federalism: How to Operationalize Economy of Autonomy?
  4. Political Economy of Inter-Governmental Relations in a Federal Framework: Lessons Learnt and Way Forward.

The conference is also conducting parallel panel discussions on Article 10-A (Right to Fair Trial), Article 25-A (Right to Education), Article 172 (Joint Ownership of Natural Resources and Article 19-A (Right to Information).

The event was attended by renowned academics and experts on federalism, decentralization and governance including Mr. Pietro Merlo, Senior Advisor, Forum of Federations; Dr. Nizamuddin Vice Chancellor, University of Gujrat and Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed, Executive Director, Higher Education Commission.

The event launched UNDP’s project on Strengthening Participatory Federalism and Decentralization in Pakistan. The project is aimed at providing technical assistance to the federal and provincial governments in the process of transition management against the backdrop of the 18th constitutional amendment. 

For further information and media assistance, please contact:

Ali Khan, Communication Specialist, Strengthening Participatory Federalism and Decentralization, UNDP Pakistan. Cell: +92-333-5009900; E-mail:

Fatimah Inayet, Communications Analyst, Communications Unit, UNDP Tel: +92-51- 8355650; E-mail: 

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