Ronald Watts Young Researcher Award

In 2014, the International Association of Centres for Federal Studies (IACFS) inaugurated the Young Scholar Award, an annual award for the best unpublished article or paper on an aspect of federalism. In 2015, this award was renamed in honour of Ronald L. Watts.


Only young researchers, attached or associated with an IACFS member centre are eligible. They include full-time researchers, masters, doctoral and post-doctoral students. Former students of a centre may also apply as long as there is a demonstrable association with the member centre. The age limit is 35 years old at the time of tabling the application.

Young researchers are invited to submit a journal-length article (8 000 - 10 000 words) on a topic dealing with an aspect of federalism. The topic does not need to be linked to the theme of the IACFS annual conference. The paper must be an original work. It may have already been submitted for publication but not published. The paper must be written in English.


  • A young researcher submits an entry to the director of his or her centre.
  • Each centre may nominate up to three candidates.


  • The award comprises a return flight ticket to the IACFS annual conference, plus three days’ accommodation and a certificate.
  • The award winner will be invited to present his/her paper at the IACFS conference.

Previous awards


The Ronald L. Watts Award for 2020 was awarded to Dr. Michelle R. Maziwisa (LLD University of the Western Cape, LLM University of Cape Town, LLB Nelson Mandela University) a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Dullah Omar Institute, University of the Western Cape, South Africa, for the paper "The Role of South African Cities in External Economic Engagements".

She presented her paper at the IACFS Annual Conference held online, on 14 October 2020.


The Ronald L. Watts Award for 2019 was awarded to Jesse Hartery (Honours B.A. in History, University of Ottawa; J.D./B.C.L., McGill University; Diploma in Federalism, University of Fribourg), a teaching assistant to Professor Johanne Poirier at McGill University, for the paper “Institutional Barriers to Sub-National Sovereignty in Myanmar: Lessons from India's Federal Design". 

He presented his paper at the IACFS Annual Conference held in Speyer, Germany, on 17 October 2019.


The IACFS Young Researcher Award for 2018 was awarded to Dr. Maja Sahadžić, Research Fellow at the University of Antwerp, for the paper “Can asymmetrical constitutional arrangements provide an alternative answer for the Disputed? Bringing constitutional asymmetries into play in the Middle East peace process”.

She presented her paper to great acclaim at the IACFS Annual Conference held in Canberra, Australia, on 27 October 2018.


The IACFS Young Researcher Award for 2017 was awarded to Ben Fraser, when he was undertaking a Masters of Law at the University of Melbourne, for the paper “Australian Intergovernmental Agreements: Accountability Through a Compact Clause”. He was then (and is now) an Assistant Parliamentary Counsel at the Parliamentary Counsel's Office (WA).  

He presented his paper to great acclaim at the IACFS Annual Conference held in Fribourg Switzerland, on 12-13 October 2017.


The IACFS Young Researcher Award for 2016 was awarded to Dr Alice Valdesalici (PhD University of Verona, Italy), a senior researcher at Eurac Research - Institute for Comparative Federalism (Bolzano/Bozen) for the paper “Measuring fiscal responsibility: from 'law in books' to 'law in action'”.

She presented her paper to great acclaim at the IACFS Annual Conference held in New Delhi, India, on 16 November 2016.


The IACFS Young Researcher Award for 2015 was award to Dr Marc Sanjaume (Ph D Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Catalonia), a post doc student at CREQC, University of Quebec at Montreal, for the paper “Reconciling liberal democracy, nationalism and political divorce in federalizing contexts”.

He presented his paper to great acclaim at the IACFS Annual Conference held in Montreal, Canada, on 3 October 2015.

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