​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​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

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... 


Indigenous Wampís notify the Peruvian state on its autonomous territorial government

4 May 2017, Lima (Peru)​

The indigenous Wampís nation submitted to the Peruvian parliament the documentation that sustains (or is the basis of) the traditional and millennial occupation of its territory, as well as the geographical, technical, legal, and anthropological support of the exercise of their autonomy.  The Wampís nation hopes that Peru will comply with the recognition of its territory and the Wampís peoples as a subject of law, in accordance with ILO Convention no. 169 and the United Nations Declaration on The Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Read more...​


Opinion poll: Catalonia prefers greater autonomy over independence from Spain

17 April 2017, Madrid (Spain)

According to a recent poll commissioned by El Pais, the majority of Catalan respondents feel that they lack real choices and are unhappy with the approaches of both Madrid and the government in Catalonia. A majority of people want a third way, a political pact that would lead to constitutional reform allowing Catalonia to remain part of Spain but with "new and guaranteed exclusive powers." This approach would convince 46% of Catalans, with just 31% saying that the only possible way forward is full independence. Read more...​


Ethnic Hungarians in Romania put forward new proposal for autonomy 

6 February 2017, Bucharest (Romania) 

The Official Gazette of Romania published recently a citizens' legislative initiative regarding the autonomy of Szeklerland, a historical region in central Romania where the majority population is Hungarian. To be sent to the Romanian parliament for debate, the authors of the citizens' legislative initiative must collect 100 000 supporting signatures within six months from the day of publication in the Official Gazette. According to the proposal, Romanian and Hungarian would be co-official languages of the autonomous region Szeklerland. The state would grant primary powers over a range of policy areas to the autonomous region, which would establish its own managing institutions. Read more... ​


Indigenous right to and forms of (legally recognized) autonomy

17 January 2017, Bolzano/Bozen (Italy)

EURAC researcher Alexandra Tomaselli​ discusses the indigenous right to autonomy on the blog of the Multidisciplinary Network on Indigenous Peoples. Since the late 1980s and throughout the decade of the 1990s, forms of indigenous autonomy or self-government were introduced in the Constitutions of five Latin American countries (Nicaragua, Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Venezuela), two of which (Ecuador and Bolivia) have reinforced such arrangements in their recent constitutional reforms (at least, on paper). In Mexico, the 2001 constitutional reform also recognised the indigenous right to autonomy, albeit to be implemented at the state (and not federal) level. Read more…​


Italian region of Veneto is planning a referendum on autonomy in the spring 2017

6 December 2016, Venice (Italy)

The people living in Venice and surrounding region are demanding for special autonomous status, with lawmakers of the Italian regional council of Veneto approving a law that defined the people from the region as "national minority", in similar terms as the people of neighbouring South Tyrol. The law would allow for the introduction of bilingual teaching and the knowledge of Venetian language and culture for those who want to work in public administration roles, but opponents of the law think Italy's Constitutional Court will declare it invalid. 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 

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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.

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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...


Ethnopolitics, Special Issue: Non-Territorial Autonomy and the Government of Divided Societies, Volume 15, Issue 1, 2016.

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The introduction of the special issue problematizes the concept of non-territorial autonomy and explores the dilemma generated by the tension between ethnic geography and degree of self-rule. It introduces a set of case studies where the relationship between these two features is discussed further: the Ottoman empire and its successor states, the Habsburg monarchy, the Jewish minorities of Europe, interwar Estonia, contemporary Belgium, and two indigenous peoples, the Sámi in Norway and the Maori in New Zealand. The special issue concludes by suggesting that in almost all cases where autonomy is extended to a minority within a state this is exercised on a territorial basis and that in many cases of non-territorial autonomy the powers assumed by the autonomous institutions are substantially symbolic. Read more...


Tove H. Malloy, Francesco Palermo (eds.), Minority Accommodation through Territorial and Non-Territorial Autonomy, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2015.

The book explores the relationship between minority, territory, and autonomy, and how it informs our understanding of non-territorial autonomy (NTA) as a strategy for accommodating ethno-cultural diversity in modern societies. While territorial autonomy (TA) is defined by a claim to a certain territory, NTA does not assume that it is derived from any particular right to territory, allocated to groups that are dispersed among the majority while belonging to a certain self-identified notion of group identity. In seeking to understand the value of NTA as a public policy tool for social cohesion, this volume critically dissects both NTA and TA, and through a conceptual analysis and case-study examination, rethinks the viability of autonomies as institutions of diversity management. Read more....



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