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Seminar Questions

PO377 Ethnic Conflict and Political Violence Week 18 Seminar: Separation as a Solution? Partition and Secession; Federalism and Autonomy. Seminar Questions.

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Seminar Questions

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  1. PO377 Ethnic Conflict and Political ViolenceWeek 18 Seminar: Separation as a Solution? Partition and Secession; Federalism and Autonomy

  2. Seminar Questions • Are autonomy arrangements (including federalism) more likely to enhance or reduce the risk of violent ethnic conflict and state break-up in ethnically diverse societies? • Can partition and separation solve violent ethnic conflict? • In your opinion, is the creation of comparatively ethnically homogeneous states or sub-state entities a suitable solution to violent ethnic conflict? • Cp. also with arguments from the last two weeks: Are scholars such as Horowitz and Lijphart wrong to believe that (violent) ethnic conflict can be managed through institutional design?

  3. Datasets on armed conflict For instance: • The Correlates of War Project: http://www.correlatesofwar.org/ • UCDP/PRIO Armed Conflict Dataset: http://www.prio.no/CSCW/Datasets/Armed-Conflict/UCDP-PRIO/ • Political Instability Task Force: http://globalpolicy.gmu.edu/pitf/

  4. The goal of separatist/secessionist movements • To establish a separate region within an existing state OR (more commonly) to create a separate and independent state. [Cp. Horowitz 2000 for the often interchangeable use of the terms “separatism” and “secession”.]

  5. Main differences between secession, partition and separation (according to Kaufmann) • “Secessions are new states created by the unilateral action of a rebellious ethnic group” (Kaufmann 1998). • Partitions are “separations jointly decided upon by the responsible powers: either agreed between the two sides (and not under pressure of imminent military victory by one side), or imposed on both sides by a stronger third party” (ibid.:125). • [We might point out that a partition can also be agreed upon through popular vote as well: e.g. South Sudan, Timor-Leste. New Caledonia is likely to vote within the next 5 years on independence from France: you can see this as decolonisation but as French colonies are viewed and treated as an integral part of French territory, it could also be seen as a partition, should this happen.] • Separation means the demographic separation of ethno-national peoples into defensible enclaves in order to reduce incentives and opportunity for further combat (ibid.).

  6. Types of partition (according to O’Leary 2007) “Political partitions … are fresh border cuts across a national homeland. They are formally intended by their promoters to regulate or resolve national, ethnic or communal conflicts. But they may be distinguished in four ways, by • whether they partition national or multinational polities; • whether they are external or internal; • the agents promoting, supporting and implementing them; and • the prior political status of the partitioned entities.” (O’Leary 2007: 894).

  7. Central tenets of the ethnic security dilemma • “The dilemma in its purest form arises when one community faces a distrustful other and one’s actions to increase one’s own security are perceived as threatening the security of others” (Sambanis 2000: 438). • The security dilemma essentially describes a spiral of action and reaction where the means by which an ethnic group tries to increase its own security decreases the security of others, so that “what one does to enhance one’s own security causes reactions that, in the end, can make one less secure” (Posen 1993: 104). • According to Barry Posen (1993), the ethnic security dilemma arises when multiethnic “empires” such as the former Yugoslavia collapse, as this produces a situation of emerging anarchy which compels the groups that used to constitute the multiethnic empire to provide for their own security. Other authors such as Saideman et al. (2002) argue that the ethnic security dilemma can arise in ethnically diverse countries even if the central government has not (yet) collapsed.

  8. Main difference between a unitary and a federal state • Whereas in federal political systems there is a “guaranteed division of power between central and regional governments” (Lijphart 1999: 186), in unitary states the central government controls all non-central governments (ibid.).

  9. Territorial Autonomy (autonomous regions) • Wolff (2010): “Territorial autonomy… describes self governance of a demographically distinct territorial unit [usually] within an existing unitary state, which comprises the following elements: (1) demographic distinctiveness of autonomous entity…; (2) devolution of power… ; (3) legal entrenchment… ; (4) limited powers of external relations… ; (5) integrative mechanisms….” • Territorial autonomy is something that can be taken away by the central government (though often this might require a constitutional change, as it would in a federal system) and the central government has more leverage to intervene in internal affairs of the autonomous region than in a federal system. • [Devolution is another way of achieving territorial self-governance in an otherwise unitary state but in contrast to autonomous territories the degree of legal protection is usually weaker, as is the degree of autonomy, and it is easier to reverse.]

  10. Examples of autonomous regions • Brcko in Bosnia and Herzegovina (controlled by neither Republika Srpska nor the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, under international governance; have a look at http://www.economist.com/node/9409312 as well as materials from last week); • Vojvodina in Serbia; • Corsica in France (more autonomy than other French regions but still fairly limited); • Aceh; Papua; West Papua; Yogyakarta in Indonesia (special administrative regions with increased autonomy from central government); • Crimea in Ukraine (autonomous republic); • Hong Kong and Macau in China (two special administrative regions with a high degree of autonomy); • Bougainville in Papua New Guinea (autonomous region formerly known as North Solomons); • Faroe Islands and Greenland in Denmark (self-governing with a high degree of autonomy; each sends two reps to the Danish parliament and both have opted out of the EU)…

  11. Disputed autonomous regions • There are also many regions in the world with disputed levels of autonomy, such as: • Kosovo in Serbia (long an autonomous region of Serbia; under UN administration 1999-2008; declared independence in 2008, which is largely recognised by other states but not recognised by Serbia, Russia, China etc.); • South Ossetia in Georgia (used to be an autonomous region but its autonomy was abolished by Georgia when it declared independence in 1990; it is now a de facto autonomous region, occupied by the Russian military but considered by Georgia to be part of its sovereign territory); • Similarly, Abkhazia in Georgia (still officially recognised as an autonomous republic but considers itself an independent state since 1992, supported by Russia).

  12. Different types of federalism and autonomy • Polycommunal federalism (aka ethnofederalism) and communal autonomy vs. non-communal territorial arrangements (based on geographic regions); • Symmetric vs. asymmetric federal arrangements • (if symmetric, there are about equal powers between constituent units, as in the USA; if asymmetric, there are unequal powers between constituent units, so some units have more autonomy than others, e.g. Canada with Quebec, India re. special provisions for various states, Iraqi Kurdistan, Malaysia with Sabah and Sarawak, the Russian Federation, etc.).

  13. Reasons to favour federal/autonomy arrangements • Consociationalists favour federalism (particularly polycommunal federalism) and communal autonomy, as it reinforces the plural nature of society and allows the minority to rule over itself in areas of exclusive concern; while… • proponents of integrative power-sharing argue that federalism/autonomy arrangements can foster ethnopolitical stability by creating multiple levels of government BUT they are often critical of ethnofederalism precisely because it reinforces the plural nature of society.

  14. The choice between polycommunal and non-communal federal systems • “If groups are territorially separate and subethnic divisions are prominent, the case for ethnically homogeneous states is strong” (Horowitz 1985: 613) → (ethno)federal arrangements increase opportunities for political representation, can help to localise conflict and lead it into subethnic channels; • “Where groups are territorially intermixed, some reduction in conflict at the center may be achieved by the creation of heterogeneous states” (ibid.: 617) → (non-communal) federal arrangements increase opportunities of political representation, localise ethnic conflict and encourage interethnic cooperation.

  15. Group work (1) Split into three groups and address the following questions (draw on the readings and arguments for this week): • If you were designing a solution for Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo or Sri Lanka (choose one) that was to involve partition into new sovereign states, where would you draw the boundaries, and why? (You can draw on the maps!!) • What would you recommend for your case in terms of the question of population transfer? (For BiH, a useful site with an interactive map is: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/women-war-and-peace/features/interactive-map-understanding-the-dayton-accords/)

  16. Group work (2) In your groups, address the following questions (draw on the readings and arguments for this week, consider pros and cons of different federal/autonomy designs, and policy implementation issues): Either • 1) Could federalism or the establishment of an autonomous Tamil region have prevented/mitigated the outbreak of large-scale ethnic violence in Sri Lanka? 2) If you were to propose some kind of autonomy arrangement as a solution to the Sri Lankan problem, what would it look like? Or • How would you “fix” the BiH federal system if you think it should not be broken up into two or three new sovereign states?

  17. Final question to consider • In your opinion, is the creation of [comparatively] ethnically homogenous states or sub-state entities a suitable solution to violent ethnic conflict?

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