The Forum is an international organization that develops and shares comparative expertise on the practice of federal and decentralized governance through a global network.
The Government of Canada provided the impetus for the establishment off the ground with the inaugural International Conference on Federalism held in 1999 at Mont Tremblant, Quebec, Canada. This conference conference led to the founding of the Forum as an ongoing institution, based in Ottawa. Four consecutive International Conferences have subsequently been held in Switzerland, Belgium, India, and Ethiopia. Following the 2005 Conference in Belgium and the partnership of a number of countries with the Forum, it became a truly international organization. Ten governments have now signed agreements with the Forum and are represented on the Forum’s Strategic Council, supporting the activities of the organization and providing expertise. These countries are Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ethiopia, Germany, India, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Switzerland. The Forum has operated field offices in Ethiopia, Sudan, Nepal and Nigeria. Over the years, the Forum has expanded the focus of its work from established federal countries to include countries in post-conflict situations adopting federal forms of governance and those involved in processes of devolution and decentralization.