Seminar on "The Role of the Second Chamber in Federal and Devolved Democracies”

Final Declaration and Recommendations - Rome, 26-27 September

Final Communiqué
adopted by consensus on 27 September 2007/
Upon the invitation of the International Alliance for Justice of Mr Bakhtiar Amin and No Peace Without Justice, in cooperation with the Iraqi National Assembly, the Kurdistan National Assembly – Iraq, and with the support of the Italian Ministry for Foreign Affairs, an International Conference on the Role of the Second Chamber in Federal and Devolved Democracies was convened on 26-27 September 2007 in the historic surroundings of the city of Rome and in the august venue of the Senate of Italy.
The Conference gathered the Presidents and Members of the Iraqi Parliament and the Kurdistan Parliament at the highest level, from various political groupings, together with Members of parliaments, experts and scholars from Italy and many other federal and devolved democracies, alongside with representatives of Iraq’s national, regional and provincial institutions.
The Conference built on the solid foundations of the outcomes of the previous discussions on Practical Federalism in Iraq, held in Venice on 18 – 26 July, 2006 and in Erbil, Kurdistan – Iraq on 10 – 16 July, 2007, also convened by the International Alliance for Justice and by No Peace Without Justice.
The discussions were conducted in a spirit of mutual respect, objective analysis, dialogue and friendliness, and were underpinned by the shared priority of the best interest of Iraq as a whole, with a view to resolving and taking into account the widest variety of options and interests.
The Conference covered issues related to the implementation of the Art. 65 of the Constitution of Iraq, on the creation of a “Federation Council”, and aimed at providing an overview of the federalist and devolved solutions for second chambers used in other countries, for Iraq’s most senior political figures and leaders to identify possible options appropriate for Iraqi context.
The Federation Council was recognized in the discussion as an element important in the establishment of a federal system and essential in the balancing of factors which are central to national policy-making, including fair distribution of wealth and revenue; good management of natural resources.; respect for cultural identities; and implementation of a national economic strategy, bearing in mind the needs of the citizens.
During the Conference many issues were raised with respect to the design and establishment of a second chamber in Iraq, including its functions, its relation to National Assembly, including possible mechanisms to avoid conflicts and duplication between them, the number and the responsibilities of its Members, and its membership criteria, including election and appointment.  Special attention was paid on the role of the second chamber in relation to the rights of minorities. 
At the conclusion of the discussions the participants agreed on the following recommendations:

  1. The Federation Council is an important body and it is necessary that it be instituted, as an essential player in the Legislative branch.  In accordance with the Iraqi Constitution the establishment of the Federation Council and its jurisdiction has to guarantee its effectiveness and broad representation of the interests of the regions and governorates.


  1. The Federation Council should be formed through election of its members, as the selection method that can most successfully make the Federation Council provide representation to the broadest spectrum of society, democratically.


  1. When considering the experiences other countries have acquired in the formation of their Federation Councils, it is necessary to take into consideration the specific political and historical circumstances in which each country has built their legislative branches.


  1. It is important that there be broad and open dialogue during the formation process for the Federation Council, based on a shared understanding of the basic principles of the role and the formation of the Federation Council as established in the Constitution.


  1. The more clearly determined and specified the competences and responsibilities of the Federation Council, reflecting in detail the interests of the regions and provinces, the more enhanced its legislative role and its contribution to the political decision‑making process.


  1. Many ways in which membership of the Federation Council were discussed, ranging from assigning a set number of members for each province, or alternatively having one member every given number of inhabitants.


  1. There should be an effective mechanism to assure the contribution of all religious groups and sects in the establishment of Federation Council.


  1. The specific experience of the Kurdistan region should be taken into consideration and its contribution to the federal system .


  1. Democratic institutions should be built according to objective principles based on competence and honesty, and not sectarianism, guaranteeing equal opportunities.


  1. The contributions from experts and parliamentarians on the experiences of their countries were welcomed while recognising the need for further in depth and detailed study, to increase knowledge and obtain greater benefit from those experiences.

At the conclusion of the Conference the participants expressed their appreciation and gratitude to those who participated and supported the event; the Iraqi  Parliament, the President and the Vice-President and the Members; the Kurdistan Parliament, the President and the Members; the Italian Senate and its staff and security, the Government of Italy, the Italian diplomatic representatives in Baghdad and Erbil; the Iraqi diplomatic representatives to Italy and to the Vatican, the media; and the staff of International Alliance for Justice and of No Peace Without Justice and all who helped make the Conference a success. 

Final Declaration Rome.pdf