​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​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.



Latest Ne​​ws

Latest Publications & Further Readings

French President rejects key Corsica autonomy demands​

7 February 2018, Ajaccio (France)

While visiting Corsica, president Macron offered to add a special mention of the island into the French Constitution but ruled out giving the Corsican language an official status and rejected other demands of the nationalist parties. In December 2017, a coalition of nationalist parties won 41 of the 63 seats in Corsica's regional assembly. The nationalists claim inter alia autonomy and a special status for the island in the French Constitution, official status for Corsican language alongside French and amnesty for Corsicans jailed for pro-independence violence. Read more....​

Hungarians in Romania Renew Call for Autonomy​

9 January 2018, Cluj-Napoca/Kolozsvár (Romania)

The three parties of Hungarian minority in Romania signed a joint resolution on autonomy concepts. They claim regional autonomy for Szeklerland (a historical region with Hungarian majority population), "special administrative status" for Partium (a historical region with a significant Hungarian population), administrative autonomy for municipalities with Hungarian majority population and cultural autonomy for all Hungarians living in Romania. Most ethnic Hungarians of Romania live in Transylvania, which became part of Romania after the First World War. Read more...​

Backlash against independence bids of Iraqi Kurdistan and Catalonia 

25-27 October 2017, Erbil (Iraq) and Barcelona (Spain)  

A referendum on independence was held in Iraqi Kurdistan on 25 September 2017 despite Iraq's Supreme Court order to suspend the vote after the Iraqi parliament had declared it unconstitutional. On 1 October 2017, Catalonia held its own independence referendum although the Spanish Constitutional Court suspended the Catalan referendum law. Both referendums were met with strong domestic and international criticism. In mid-October, Iraqi troops attacked Kurdish security forces and captured several key disputed areas. O25 October, Iraqi Kurdistan decided to "freeze" the referendum result and start a dialogue with Baghdad. On 27 October, the Catalan parliament unilaterally declared independence from Spain. Madrid suspended the autonomy of Catalonia, dissolved the Catalan parliament and called for regional elections on 21 December. Read more about the situation in Catalonia and Iraqi Kurdistan​.

Italian regions of Lombardy and Veneto vote for more autonomy

22 October 2017, Milan and Venice (Italy) 

Italian northern regions of Lombardy and Veneto voted for greater autonomy in referendums that aim to secure a mandate to negotiate a better financial arrangement with Rome. These referendums were held in line with the Constitution but they are not binding on Rome. According to the Italian Constitution, a greater autonomy may be conceded upon request of the region involved, and on the basis of an agreement between the region and the state. Ultimately, the law has to be approved by both Houses of Parliament with an absolute majority of their members. Lombardy, home to financial hub Milan, accounts for about 20% of Italy's economy. Veneto, which includes the tourist magnet Venice, accounts for 10%. Read more... ​

The European Research Council (ERC) is funding a new project on non-territorial autonomy 

11 September 2017, Vienna (Austria)

The ERC Starting Grant project "Non-Territorial Autonomy as Minority Protection in Europe: An Intellectual and Political History of a Travelling Idea, 1850–2000" examines the history of non-territorial autonomy as a political idea and as an applied policy. The project explores how this idea of granting cultural rights to a national group as a corporate body within a state, as a means of integrating diverse nationalities, travelled and transformed throughout the Habsburg Empire from 1850 to the present. Four research positions are open for this project. Read more...​

New Visiting Researchers Grant Programme in Catalonia​

2 June 2017, Barcelona (Spain)

The Institut d'Estudis de l'Autogovern (IEA) has launched a new programme of grants for visiting researchers. The aim of the grant is to promote international academic research into the self-government of Catalonia by funding foreign researchers who will work for between three and nine months within established research groups linked to Catalan universities. Applications for grants must include a research project and the deadline for application is 3 July 2017. ​Read more...​

Call for applications: E-course on territorial autonomy

17 May 2017, Mariehamn (Åland ​Islands, Finland)

The Åland Islands Peace Institute has developed a university-level e-course on territorial autonomy, with the Åland Example as a main case study. The course encompasses five modules and is taught online on a digital learning platform, through a rich selection of resources including course literature, audio and video material and discussion forums. The aim of the course is to provide participants with a broad academic framework for discussing territorial autonomy from different perspectives. Registration for the autumn 2017 course is open until 4 September 2017. Read more...

Call for applications: Federal Scholar in Residence Program 2018 

​9 May 2017, Bolzano/Bozen (Italy)

The Institute for Comparative Federalism of Eurac Research has established the yearly Federal Scholar in Residence Program in order to enhance the comparative study of federalism and regionalism by providing an opportunity for exchange among scholars in the field so as to inspire and develop new project ideas. Each edition's winner is granted a research stay of up to three weeks at Eurac Research in Bolzano/Bozen and gets the opportunity to discuss and present their research on issues related to comparative federalism, regionalism and/or intergovernmental relations with international experts in the field. The deadline for application is 1 July 2017. 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...​

Kimana Zulueta-Fülscher, Asanga Welikala, "Substate Constitutions in Fragile and Conflict-affected Settings", International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, Policy Paper No. 15, 2017

Substate constitutions are understood as written legal instruments that limit and structure political power at the substate level, with legal supremacy regarding other substate laws. This Policy Paper examines substate constitutions in fragile and conflict-affected settings—in both federal and unitary (or hybrid) states—adopted after the end of the Cold War starting in 1991. It aims to fill a significant gap in the policy and academic literature and it covers 10 countries: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Comoros, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Russia, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan and Sudan. Read more...

Journal of Autonomy and Security Studies, Volume 1, Issue 1, 2017

The Journal of Autonomy and Security Studies (JASS) 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 will include 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. JASS is published twice a year – in May and in November.​ Read more...

Roberto Toniatti, Jens Woelk (eds.), Regional Autonomy, Cultural Diversity and Differentiated Territorial Government. The Case of Tibet – Chinese and Comparative Perspectives, Routledge, 2017

This edited volume assesses the current state of the international theory and practice of autonomy in order to pursue the possibility of regional self-government in Tibet. Examining the Chinese framework of regional self-government, along with key international cases of autonomy in Europe, North America and Asia, the volume offers a comprehensive context for the consideration of both Tibetan demands and Chinese worries. Their insights will be invaluable to academics, practitioners, diplomats, civil servants, government representatives, international organisations and NGOs interested in the theory and practice of autonomy, as well as those concerned with the future of Tibet. Read more...​

Allison McCulloch, John McGarry (eds.), Power Sharing: Empirical and Normative Challenges, Routledge, 2017

This edited volume aims to enhance our understanding of the utility of power-sharing in deeply divided places by subjecting power-sharing theory and practice to empirical and normative analysis and critique. This text will be of interest to students, scholars and practitioners of power-sharing, ethnic politics, democracy and democratization, peace-building, comparative constitutional design, and more broadly Comparative Politics, International Relations and Constitutional and Comparative Law. Read more...​

John Coakley (ed.), Non-territorial Autonomy in Divided Societies. Comparative Perspectives, Routledge, 2017

This volume aims to fill a gap in the academic literature on non-territorial autonomy (NTA) by offering a comparative assessment of the significance of this political institutional device. Developed theoretically by Karl Renner in the early twentieth century as a mechanism for responding to demands for self-government from dispersed minorities within the Austro-Hungarian Empire, NTA had earlier roots in the Ottoman Empire, and later formed the basis for constitutional experiments in Estonia, in Belgium, and in states with sizeable but dispersed minorities. Read more...​

Bulletin of Latin American Research, Special Issue: 25 Years of Autonomy on Nicaragua's Caribbean Coast: Cultural Diversity and Governance in Indigenous Regions of Latin America, Volume 35, Issue 3, July 2016, 287–419


The articles included in this special issue offer a critical assessment of the last 25 years of autonomy through an examination of some of the most contentious issues that have characterised the exercise of autonomy rights, namely: the obstacles facing Miskitu indigenous women who suffer domestic violence when they need to access the justice system, the long and complex process of territorial demarcation and indigenous land titling, the historical roots and contemporary expressions of indigenous autonomy, communal governance and political participation, and the promise of Afro-descendant land activism. All the articles included in this special issue shed new light on the above-mentioned issues, and at the same time provide an overview on contemporary research on the autonomy process. Read more...

Alexandra Tomaselli, “Exploring Indigenous Self‐governments and Forms of Autonomies” in Corinne Lennox and Damien Short (eds.), Handbook of Indigenous Peoples' Rights, Routledge, London and New York, 2016, 83-100


This chapter focuses on whether a right to autonomy of indigenous peoples exists under international law or is confined to domestic legislation solely. In particular, it is suggested that indigenous peoples have the right to autonomy, which derives from their right to self-determination but without limiting the scope of the latter. After introducing where forms of indigenous autonomies worldwide have been established and how these may be classified, the achievements and failures of the eight case studies of (mainly, territorial) autonomous arrangements (Chittagong Hill Tracts in Bangladesh; Aceh and Papua in Indonesia; Bolivia; Ecuador; Mexico; Venezuela; and Colombia) are analysed. Read more...

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