The Hon Sir Gerard Brennan AC KBE
former Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia
Conference Committee:
Suri Ratnapala, Professor of Public Law, UQ
Thomas John, Chair, European Focus Group, LCA
Nicholas Aroney, Reader in Law, UQ
Hendryk Flaegel, International Law Section, LCA

Proposed federalism

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It has been proposed in several unitary states to establish a federal system, for various reasons. China is the largest unitary state in the world by both population and land area. Although China has had long periods of central rule for centuries, it is often argued that the unitary structure of the Chinese government is far too unwieldy to effectively and equitably manage the country's affairs. On the other hand, Chinese nationalists are suspicious of decentralization as a form of secessionism and a backdoor for national disunity; still others argue that the degree of autonomy given to provincial-level officials in the People's Republic of China amounts to a de facto federalism. Shortly after the 2011 Libyan civil war, some in the eastern region of the country (Cyrenaica) began to call for the new regime to be federal, with the traditional three regions of Libya (Cyrenaica, Tripolitania, and Fezzan) b ing the constituent units. A group calling itself the Cyrenaican Transitional Council issued a declaration of autonomy on 6 March 2012; this move was rejected by the National Transitional Council in Tripoli. Since the 1997 referendums on devolution in Scotland and Wales, and after the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland, three of the four countries of the UK have some level of autonomy outside of Westminster's rule. To counter the increasing popularity of Scottish nationalism and Welsh nationalism, both of which threaten the unity of the United Kingdom (see Unionism in the United Kingdom) there have been some calls for the UK to adopt a federal system, with each of the four home nations having its own, equal devolved legislatures and law-making powers. This is supported by various Liberal Democrats and the Green Party of England and Wales, and would provide a solution to the West Lothian Question.

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