The Institute of Federalism specialises in research on governance issues, with particular focus on federalism, decentralisation, democracy and human rights. The IFF has generated a wealth of research findings on the obligations and challenges faced by modern states. These include fulfilling essential public functions cost-effectively and responsively to citizens’ demands, acting with democratic legitimacy, recognising the diversity of society, and protecting the rights of individuals and of minorities.

Given that the IFF is part of the Law Faculty of Fribourg University, priority is given to research on how the law treats the modern-day challenges faced by governments. Institute staff work closely with the chairs of the Department for Public Law and doctoral students and exploit synergies. However, the IFF also employs assistant researchers from other disciplines, takes part in inter- and transdisciplinary projects and liaises with other researchers from Fribourg University, as well as researchers working elsewhere in Switzerland and abroad.

The Institute focuses its activity on four fields that are potential areas of tensions:

Unity and diversity

When a state is well-organised, it is able to foster unity while protecting and nurturing diversity, whether it be ethnic groups, languages, cultures, religions or ideologies. With this in mind, the IFF examines issues surrounding conflict prevention and management, the protection of minorities, and the processes of Europeanisation and globalisation.

Structures and procedures

Research focuses on the territorial organisation of states, the organisation of the administration, law-making (legisprudence), cooperation between local/regional government agencies as well as cross-border collaboration.

Solidarity and competition

Research focuses on issues surrounding the subject of sovereignty over (natural) resources, distributive justice and how a federal state handles the competing interests of solidarity and competition.

Democracy and human rights

Research focuses on issues related to the rule of law, democracy and human rights, including their conflicting values.

Publications of the Institute of Federalism PIFF

IFF Working Paper Online

Research projects

Guest Researcher

Literature and Case Law on Swiss Federalism