​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Autonomy is a matter of interest not only for academics, but equally for practitioners involved in negotiations about institutional design (politicians, civil servants, their advisors and third party facilitators from international organizations). Bearing this in mind, the research conducted for this project also has a decidedly practical purpose, i.e. to make precisely such people aware of the wealth of options provided by existing autonomy arrangements. Even though it is not possible to transplant one arrangement in its entirety from one context to another, such awareness may facilitate the work of practitioners because it prevents them from having to re-invent every single aspect of the wheel. This has two main implications for our research. First, in order to demonstrate the real wealth of options at hand, we do not limit ourselves to the analysis of the widely acclaimed standard cases, but also cover lesser-known and so far understudied arrangements of autonomy. Secondly, the practical approach compels us to focus on information that is really useful for practitioners and to present it in a user-friendly manner.

Another characteristic of research within this project is its effort to link insights gained by previous studies from different academic disciplines. In concrete terms, we aim in our analysis to bridge comparative politics and comparative constitutional law. The project team is well suited for such an endeavor because it is composed of experienced researchers from both disciplines. Moreover, external experts contributing case studies to the webpage are required to equally consider both law and political science aspects of the respective autonomy arrangements.

Furthermore, our research is inspired by the aim to bridge studies on territorial and non-territorial autonomy. While territorial arrangements are on a global scale clearly more numerous and better covered by academic analysis, there has been since the 1990s a trend towards very diverse non-territorial arrangements. The fact that our research also scrutinizes and presents numerous cases of this latter form of autonomy constitutes an important added value. This puts people interested in the webpage in a position to keep track of the enormous variety, which autonomy arrangements stand for today.



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Latest Ne​​ws

Latest Publications & Further Readings

European Non-Territorial Autonomy Network - ENTAN

4 September 2019 (Brussels​​, Belgium)

​ENTAN is a COST Action aimed at examining the concept of non-territorial autonomy (NTA). The network particularly focuses on NTA arrangements for reducing inter-ethnic tensions within a state and on the accommodation of the needs of different communities while preventing calls to separate statehood. The main objective is to investigate the existing NTA mechanisms and policies and to develop new modalities for the accommodation of differences in the context of growing challenges stemming from globalisation, regionalisation and European supranational integration. The network fosters interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary group work, and provides for training and empowerment of young researchers, academic conferences and publications, as well as for the dissemination of results to policy makers, civil society organisations and communities. Read more…


India revokes the special autonomy statute of Jammu and Kashmir

5 August 2019 (New Delhi​​, India)​

Indian government abolished Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, which is the legal basis for the autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir. It is an unprecedented move likely to spark unrest. Article 370 guaranteed the special status of Jammu and Kashmir (including the right to have its own Constitution) and restricted the legislative power of the Indian parliament to defence, external affairs and communications. However, the autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir has been gradually and deliberately eroded through Presidential Orders with explicit approval of the India's Supreme Court.  Read more…


Mass protests protect Hong Kong's legal autonomy from China

17 June 2019 (Hong Kong​​, China)​

In response to massive popular resistance, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced she would suspend a vote on a proposed new law that would allow China to extradite suspects accused of certain crimes and prosecute them in Chinese courts. For over a week, some 1.3 million people had gathered daily outside Hong Kong's legislature to protest the legislation, which protesters say China will abuse to extradite political dissidents. In mid-June consideration of the law was indefinitely postponed. That temporarily protects Hong Kong's judicial system, one of the island territory's few remaining areas of government autonomy from China. Read more…​


Restoring the Constitutional Status of Sabah and Sarawak

29 March 2019 (Kuala Lumpur​, Malaysia)

Recently, the Malaysian government decided to amend Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution regarding the constitutional position of Sabah and Sarawak. Situated on the island of Borneo, across the South China Sea from peninsular or ‘West’ Malaysia, the East Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak have had a complex – if at times uneasy – relationship with the rest of the federation since September 1963, when Malaysia was formed. Essentially, the government seeks to restore the special status of Sabah and Sarawak corresponding to their original numerous autonomous powers within the Malaysian federation. Read more…​


Eurac's Annual Minority Rights Lecture

13 February 2019 (Bolzano/Bozen​​, Italy)

The debate in Australia about self-government and co-government by Aboriginal people is becoming more relevant than ever. Most recently, recommendations have been made by a parliamentary committee in Australia for a "Voice" to be created whereby Aboriginal people can elect representatives to speak on their behalf and to give advice to the national government. Professor De Villiers spoke about the past experiences of Australia with advisory bodies, highlighted some of the challenges that are faced by the current proposals, and reflected on options for self-government that are pursued by Aboriginal communities at a local level. Bertus de Villiers is an Adjunct Professor of the Law School of Curtin University (Australia) and Distinguished Visiting Professor of the Law School of the University of Johannesburg (South Africa).​


Olgun Akbulut and Elçin Aktoprak (eds.), Minority Self-Government in Europe and the Middle East: From Theory to Practice, Brill Nijhoff, 2019

This volume combines theory with facts on the ground, going beyond legal perspectives without neglecting existing laws and their implementation. Theoretical discussions transcend examining existing autonomy models in certain regions. It offers new models in the field, discussing such critical themes as environmentalism. Traditional concepts such as self-determination and well-known successful autonomy examples are examined from different perspectives. Some chapters in this volume focus on certain regions (including Turkey, Syria, and Iraq) which have only recently received scholarly attention. Chapters complement one another in terms of their theoretical inputs and outputs from the field. Read more...


Journal of Autonomy and Security Studies (JASS), Volume 3, Issue 1, June 2019

The Journal of Autonomy and Security Studies is a peer-reviewed, open access e-journal published by the Åland Islands Peace Institute. The journal addresses its overarching theme of peace and security from the perspectives of autonomy, demilitarization, and minority protection. Each issue of JASS includes scholarly articles that in some way deal with the subjects mentioned above. JASS issues may also include other types of material such as project notes, book reviews, and information on pending conferences. Read more...


Stefano Bottoni, Stalin's Legacy in Romania. The Hungarian Autonomous Region, 1952–1960, Lexington Books, 2018

The book explores the little-known history of the Hungarian Autonomous Region, a Soviet-style territorial autonomy that was granted in Romania on Stalin's personal advice to the Hungarian Székely community in the summer of 1952. Since 1945, a complex mechanism of ethnic balance and power-sharing helped the Romanian Communist Party to strengthen—with Soviet assistance—its political legitimacy among different national and social groups. The ideological premises of the Hungarian Autonomous Region followed the Bolshevik pattern of territorial autonomy elaborated by Lenin and Stalin in the early 1920sRead more…​


Dawn Walsh, Territorial Self-Government as a Conflict Management Tool, Palgrave Macmillan, 2018

This book provides an in-depth narrative of the difficulties facing Territorial Self-Government institutions across Northern Ireland, Bosnia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Moldova, and Iraq. It brings together analyses of both prominent and lesser known cases to provide a broad overview of how Territorial Self-Government operates as a conflict management tool in different contexts. Drawing on lessons from these five cases, the author demonstrates the importance of designing and implementing international guarantees to self-government and the associated difficulties. Read more...


Dejan Stjepanović, Multiethnic Regionalisms in Southeastern Europe: Statehood Alternatives, Comparative Territorial Politics Series, Palgrave, 2017

This book is based on a comparative study of regionalisms in Croatia's regions of Dalmatia and Istria as well as Serbia's Vojvodina. The monograph's main focus is on regionalist political party strategies since 1990, and within that, each case study considers history and historiography, inter-group relations, economics, and region-building. The analysis demonstrates that many of the common assumptions about the causal determinants of territorial autonomy projects and outcomes, as well as about a teleological and unidirectional path from regionalism to nationalism, do not stand up to scrutiny. Read more...​




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