​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​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

Presentation of policy paper "Territory and Power in Constitutional Transitions" by George Anderson and Sujit Choudhry

16 January 2019 (Stockholm, Sweden)

This policy paper provides insights into how territorial claims relate to constitution-making processes and constitutional design during periods of intense political engagement over constitutional reform or 'constitutional moments'. It considers the factors that shape such constitutional moments, the dynamics of those constitutional moments themselves and how these factors and dynamics frame choices regarding constitution-making processes and constitutional design. The paper is largely based on the last chapter of an edited volume forthcoming from Oxford University Press in 2019. Read more...  


New Caledonia votes to remain part of France

5 November 2018 (Nouméa​, France)

Voters in the French Pacific territory of New Caledonia have rejected a bid for independence. Final results showed that 56.4% chose to remain part of France while 43.6% voted to leave. New Caledonia is an archipelago in the southwest Pacific Ocean. While some powers have been devolved to the islands, their population are French citizens and vote in the country's elections. While the indigenous Kanak people represent about 40% of the population, people of European descent make up about 27%. New Caledonia has seen deep divisions between its indigenous Kanak population and Europeans, most notably over the thorny question of independence. Read more...


Launch of open access e-book: A Bibliography on the Autonomy of South Tyrol by Sara Parolari and Carolin Zwilling (Eurac Research)

3 October 2018 (Bolzano/Bozen​, Italy)

This select trilingual bibliography (German, Italian and English) on the self-governance of South Tyrol contains not only general entries on the special autonomy of the province, but also a more specific selection of the most relevant contributions on topics such as history, conflict resolution, minority protection, areas of competence, financial autonomy, electoral system. It is a helpful tool for scholars, students and public officials as well as for general public interested in these topics. Download the e-book here.


Spain offers referendum on greater Catalan autonomy

3 September 2018 (Madrid​, Spain)

Spain's prime minister has proposed a referendum on whether Catalonia should be given greater autonomy, in a bid to dampen tensions between Madrid and Barcelona. One poll conducted for El Periodico newspaper in July found that 62 per cent of Catalans backed greater self-governance, compared with 22 per cent who supported full independence from Spain. However, the Catalan leader Quim Torra insists on a referendum on full independence from Spain rather than just a referendum on more powers. Read more…​​​

Launch of new research report "Options for Bougainville's Autonomy Arrangement: A Study from a Global Comparative Perspective"

30 August 2018 (Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea)

This report co-authored by Karl Kössler, Francesco Palermo, Jens Woelk, researchers at the Institute for Comparative Federalism of Eurac Research aims to provide insights regarding the substance of autonomy regimes worldwide with a view to identifying and illustrating options for the status of Bougainville within Papua New Guinea. The report cites considerations of geography, history and the management of ethno-cultural diversity which often prompt national governments and regions to settle on some form of autonomy as a compromise solution, as a "middle way" between a centralised unitary state and own statehood. Read more…

Philippine Congress passes autonomy bill for volatile Muslim region

30 May 2018 (Manila​,The Philippines)

Philippine Congress approved a bill that outlines the process to set up the autonomous region of Bangsamoro. Bangsamoro Basic Law is the result of a 2014 peace deal between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the government to end nearly 50 years of violent conflict. While Bangsamoro will have its own executive, legislature and fiscal powers, the central government will continue to oversee defense, security, foreign affairs, and monetary policy. Read more...​







Journal of Autonomy and Security Studies, Volume 2, Issue 2, December 2018

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. 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...​


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...​

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