Unpo Hosts Conference On Federalism In The Middle East At The European Parliament

Mr. Nasser Boladai, President of the Balochistan Peoples Party followed with an overview of the situation of the Balochi minority in southern Iran.

UNPO hosts conference on Federalism in the Middle East at the European Parliament

On 2 October 2013, Mr. Tunne Kelam, Member of the European Parliament, in coordination with UNPO, hosted a conference titled “Exploring the Path of Federalism in the Middle East.” This conference took place at the European Parliament headquarters in Brussels, and was moderated by MEP Tunne Kelam and UNPO General Secretary Marino Busdachin. 

The event highlighted the prospects of federalism in Iran and Iraq, and also discussed the theoretical implications of its establishment. The event is not the first in its kind: in 2009 UNPO organized a conference on “Human Rights and the Question of Democratization and Federalism in Iran”, of which the declaration can be found here.

The first portion of the program featured presentations by three speakers on the subject of human rights and federalism in the Middle East. Ms. Ayda Karimli, a political coordinator from the Southern Azerbaijan region in Iran, discussed the status of ethnic minorities in Iran and the issues they currently face in the region. Such Iranian minorities include the Ahwazi Arabs, the Baloch, the Kurds, the Turkmen, the Lor, and the Azerbaijani Turks. Mr. William Spencer from the Institute for International Law and Human Rights followed with a discussion on the prospects of a federal structure in Iraq, and how the IILHR has contributed to the development of a more democratic and representative Iraq. Spencer then concluded his dialogue with the assessment that federalism is a tool to restoring democracy in the state, but is not the final step. The final presentation of the first panel was delivered by Mr. Loghman Ahmedi, Head of Foreign Relations of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan and member of the Congress of Nationalities for a Federal Iran (CNFI). Ahmedi discussed the advantages of federalism in Iran and its role in unifying minorities who have suffered similar persecution and marginalization.

The second panel of the program took a more theoretical approach to the idea of federal states in the Middle East, starting with a presentation by Mr. Michael Jewkes, an expert on the philosophy of federalism from the Institute of Philosophy from KU Leuven. Jewkes discussed federalism on a theoretical level and the factors involved in a federal state. Mr. Nasser Boladai, President of the Balochistan Peoples Party followed with an overview of the situation of the Balochi minority in southern Iran. The final lecture was given by Dr. Ivan Serrano from Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona. Dr. Serrano spoke on democracy and accommodation of national minorities in Europe and some reflections on the idea of federalism. Both panels concluded with informative question and answer sessions.

The event proved to be very informative and shed light on a range of issues, from the Iraq War to women’s rights in Iran. The prospects of a federal state in the Middle East is still a topic of debate, and several other events will thus follow.

Background information:

Speaker biographies

Press release


– See more at: http://unpo.org/article/16449#sthash.I57TGc6S.dpuf

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