Project I The social philosophy of federalism in current world conditions
At present, political interests in the development of federal states tend, primarily, to be focused upon the division of powers between the various levels of government, the issue of fiscal federalism and the effectiveness of the resulting legal and administrative structures. In response to ever-growing international competition and the shortcomings of state provision of up-to-date welfare services to their respective populations, what we might term as competitive federalism appears to be consolidating its positions.
This process has begun to run counter to the fundamental principles of federalism, i.e., the focus on the cooperative movement and social emancipation. Of these, the social tenets of federalism could make a substantial contribution to the changeover to a new system of decision-making on the subsequent progress of societies engaged in thorough-going transformations. This project is essentially based on non-European conceptions of federalism. The aim is to compare the following sets of ideas -
a) the ideas of Chinese philosophers regarding the bottom-up social and economic composition of the state, beginning with the family and which share in this respect the same conception as the German federalist theoretician, Constantin Frantz;
b) Buddhist philosophy or diversity within unity, whereby reality is considered as both object and subject of the constantly changing nature of things, appearing to form a matrix of reciprocally conditioned ties, in which everything exists simultaneously as separate parts of the matrix and as a whole;
c) federalism’s message of social emancipation in the various teachings of Islam, in particular Millet’s system as a form of personal federalism.
Project II The foreign relations of subnational federal entities
The foreign relations of subnational units of federal states have taken on increasing importance at the international level in recent times. There are a number of reasons for this. In terms of supranational convergence, the individual components of conventional federally-conceived states have every interest in expressing their interests as those of the country as a whole. However, in regions undergoing transformation, local entities need to take their own initiatives in establishing international relations, as this is often necessary for their survival within the context of global competition. Further out, this process can result in the dissolution of centralist states from within and prepare the ground for new, federal government structures.
By way of thousands of international agreements and understandings, subnational foreign ties have taken on such proportions that they constitute de facto a real element of international relations. Less influenced by national interest, through humanitarian help and the support of regional restructure, subnational foreign relations are an important actor of peace politics.
Project III Federalism in post-Communist societies in transformation
This research project is subject to the terms of a partnership agreement with M.V. Lomonsov Moscow State University and corresponding organisations in central and eastern Europe. A book has been published on this subject in English and Russian (“Federalism and Decentralisation. Perspectives for the Transformation Process in Eastern and Central Europe” J. Rose/J.C. Traut, Münster/London 2001).
Project IV Divided cities of 21st century Europe
This research project is based on the institute’s consulting work in Cyprus and the Caucasus region. Divided cities exist from Belfast to Jerusalem and, in themselves, represent a graphic illustration of the limits of federal consensus. At the same time, the opening of borders between the two sides of the divided city of Nicosia would seem to suggest that hostility can be overcome. In this respect, the division of a given city represents a challenge to conflicting models of federalism. The project is divided into theoretical and practical elements.
Project V Federal systems and centralised security organs. The powers and role of the secret services in a federal state.
Beyond traditional war-time conditions, the requirements of security agencies in the pursuit of effectiveness tend to run counter to the goals of decentralisation of federal government organisations at both the interior and the international levels. This issue conjures up the classic dilemma as to the types of organisation that can bring lasting effectiveness while ensuring the rule of law and personal freedom. For federalists, the powers attributed to, the methods and operations of security services represent an issue of considerable importance.