Opinions on Iraqi Federalism: Structural Construction & Resource Sharing


In June, we asked two experts to discuss the current state of play of Iraqi federalism, in the context of past disputes and the wider region.
Their answers provide an overview of recurrent problems since Iraq became a federal state with the ratification of the 2005 Constitution, which defined Iraq as a federal entity under Section One, Article 1, and in subsequent Articles attempted to delineate the powers of the central government, federal region and provinces. Iraq’s federal constitution also called for laws governing this process and the creation of independent councils and commissions to manage the next stages of Iraq’s journey to implement federal governance.
Prior to this point, the road to Iraq’s federalism was shaped by the atrocities of a highly centralised regime, which experimented with decentralised forms of governance (for example, Governorates Law 159 of 1969 and Autonomy Law No.33 of 1974). These laws either failed or were violently reneged upon.
These failures culminated in the endorsement of a power-sharing mechanism in the Iraqi opposition conferences of the early 1990s and the genesis of a federal Iraq under Article 4 of the Transitional Administrative Law in 2004. Since then, the process of federalism has been contested, often at the expense of both the federal region and central government. Components of Iraq’s federalism sometimes appear to move forward, only to be pulled back by contested issues from years past.
The commentary here reminds us that like democratic governance, federalism is a process, rather than simply a declaration or an election. This requires not only legislation to add detail and clarity to constitutional articles for their effective implementation, but also a degree of ideological commitment to federalism itself. Only then will independent councils and commissions…

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