On June 21, 1977, representatives from ten institutions concerned with the study of federalism and drawn from eight countries convened at the Wenkenhof in Basel (Switzerland), and established an association to further the study and understanding of federal principles and patterns.

Daniel J. ELAZAR was the founding President and provided leadership to the Association in that capacity from 1977 to 1991.

Founding Members

  • The original membership of IACFS at the time of its founding in 1977 comprised the following Centers:
  • Centre for Research on Federal Financial Relations, Canberra, ACT., Australia
  • Center for the Study of Federalism, Temple University, Philadelphia, U.S.A.;
  • Forschungsinstitut für Föderalismus und Regionalstrukturen, Riehen, Basel-Stadt, Switzerland (now the Institut du Fédéralisme at the University of Fribourg, Fribourg, Switzerland);
  • Institut Européen des Hautes Etudes Internationales, Nice, France (amalgamated with Collège Universitaire d’Études;
  • Fédéralistes at Aosta, Italy, to form the Centre International de Formation Européenne [CIFE]);
  • Institut Universitaire d’Études européennes Geneva, Switzerland;
  • Collège Universitaire d’Études fédéralistes, Aosta, Italy;
  • Institute of Intergovernmental Relations, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada;
  • Jerusalem Institute for Federal Studies, Jerusalem, Israel (currently the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs);
  • Workshop in Political Theory and Political Analysis, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, U.S.A.;
  • Institut für Föderalismusstudien, Innsbruck, Austria (attended founding meeting but did not formally join IACFS at that time).

Of these ten, a nucleus of seven member Centers (Canberra, Bloomington, Philadelphia, Basel, Nice, Kingston, and Jerusalem) provided IACFS in its early years with the continuity it needed until they were joined by new members.

Former Presidents

  • Nico Steytler (2010-2016)
  • Cheryl Saunders (2004-2009)
  • John Kincaid (1998-2003)
  • Ronald L. Watts (1992-1997)
  • Daniel J. Elazar (1977-1991)

Past Conferences

  • 2021 (October 28-30) Institute for Federalism, Innsbruck, Austria (hybrid conference) The Making and Ending of Federalism
  • 2020 (October 15-16) Dullah Omar Institute, University of the Western Cape (online conference) Combating the COVID-19 pandemic: Federalism a boon or bane?
  • 2019 (16-18 October) German Research Institute for Public Administration, Speyer, Germany Unity and Diversity of Civil Service in Federal and Unitary/Decentralized Countries
    Unity and Diversity of Civil Service in Federal and Unitary/Decentralized Countries
  • 2018 (25-28 October) Australian Centre for Federalism (ACF) at the Australian National University, Canberra, Australia
    Beyond Autonomy: Theoretical and Practical Challenges to 21st Century Federalism
  • 2017 (12-13 October) Institut für Föderalismus / Institut du Fédéralisme / Institute of Federalism (University of Fribourg)
  • The Principle of Equality in Diverse States – Reconciling Autonomy with Equal Rights and Opportunities
  • 2016 (16-18 NOVEMBER 2016) Centre for Multilevel Federalism (CMF) (Institute of Social Sciences)
    The Value of Comparative Federalism: the Legacy of Ronald L. Watts
  • 2015 (1-3 October) Canada Research Chair in Québec and Canadian Studies, Montréal, Canada
    Revisiting unity and diversity in federal countries: Changing concepts, reform proposals and new institutional realities
  • 2014 (November 5-7) Community Law Centre and SARChI Chair in Multilevel Government, (University of the Western Cape), Cape Town, South Africa
    Concurrent powers in federal systems: Meaning making, managing
  • 2013 (September 11-13) EURAC Institute for Studies on Federalism and Regionalism, Bolzano/Bozen, Italy
    Federalism as decision-making: Changes in structures, procedures and policies
  • 2012 (September 19 - 21) Istituto di Studi sui Sistemi Regionali Federali e sulle Autonomie ''Massimo Severo Giannini'',   Rome, Italy
    Federalism, Regionalism and Territory
  • 2011 (September 29 - October 1) German Research Institute for Public Administration (GRIP) (German University of Administrative Sciences), Speyer, Germany
    Governing from the Center: The influence of the Federal/Central Government on Subnational Governments
  • 2010 (September 16-18) Center for State Constitutional Studies (Rutgers University) and Meyner Center for the Study of State & Local Government (Lafayette College),  Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States of America
    Federalism and the Global Financial Crisis: Impacts and Responses
  • 2009 (September) Centre for Federal Studies (University of Kent), Canterbury, Kent, United Kingdom
    Federal Political Culture
  • 2008 (September), Institut d'Estudis Autonòmics, Barcelona, Spain
    Decentralizing and Re-centralizing Trends in the Distribution of Powers within Federal Countries
  • 2007 (October 18-20) Institute of Intergovernmental Relations (Queen's University), Kingston, Canada
    The federal idea: Conference in Honour of Ronald L. Watts.
  • 2006 (July) Europäisches Zentrum für Föderalismusforschung (EZFF) / European Centre for Research on Federalism (ECRF) (Eberhard Karls University Tübingen), Tübingen, Germany
    Legislatures in federal systems and multilevel governance
  • 2005 (October 5-9) Deutsches Institut für Föderlismusforschung e. V. (DIF e.V.) / German Institute for Federal Studies (University of Hanover) and Associazione Osservatorio Sul Federalismo e i Processi Di Governo, Menaggio, Italy
    Judge Made Federalism
  • 2004 (September 29 –October 3) Community Law Centre (University of the Western Cape), Cape Town, South Africa
    The place and role of local government in federal systems
  • 2003 (July) Centre for Federal Studies, (Hamdard University), New Delhi , India
    Legislative and executive competences of federal systems
  • 2002 (November 13-16) Institut für Föderalismus (University of Innsbruck), Innsbruck (Austria)
    The homogeneity of democracy, rights, and the rule of law in federal and confederal systems
  • 1979 (November 7) Center for the Study of Federalism, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA Working Group Projects
  • 1978 (June 27-30) Centre International de Formation Européene (CIFE), Aosta, Italy Federalism and Regionalism

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