Municipal Boundary Demarcation in Federal Countries

Max Planck Foundation organised the sixth workshop for members of the Somali Boundaries and Federation Commission

On 10 March, the Max Planck Foundation facilitated the second workshop of 2016 for the Boundaries and Federation Commission (BFC) on municipal boundary demarcation in federal countries.

The BFC is an independent commission established by the Provisional Constitution of Somalia to spearhead the territorial restructuring of Somalia. Article 49 of the Provisional Constitution specifically tasks the BFC to recommend to the Federal Parliament the number and boundaries of constituent units (regions/provinces). Additionally, the BFC also has a statutory mandate to demarcate municipal (local) administrative boundaries.

In preparation of the BFC’s visit to the regions and districts of Somalia to consult on the demarcation of boundaries, the Max Planck Foundation organised a technical workshop covering both procedural and substantive aspects of boundary demarcation processes. This workshop follows up on an earlier training on the functions and structures of local government in federal systems and the formation of constituent units in federal countries. The focus of this workshop was to discuss in more detail the creation and adjustment of local government boundaries.

The BFC examined demarcation processes in several countries to understand the different procedures that have been adopted. The Commission in particular took note of various demarcation criteria applied by demarcation authorities to determine the size and configuration of local government units. A number of factors commonly applied in comparative demarcation criteria, including population size, economic capability and historical boundaries, were comprehensively deliberated by the BFC in light of their relevance to the Somali context.

Territorial reorganisation is an important and practical way to give effect to Somalia’s transition to a federal system, but has been complicated by a lack of available data, as well as the precarious security situation in some districts. The materials covered in the workshop have helped the BFC to develop and incorporate demarcation criteria as part of their consultations.