Solving ethnic conflict through self-government: a short guide to autonomy in South Asia and Europe
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Autonomy, in the framework of a modern democratic state, was first established in 1921 in Finland‘s Aland Islands. Later such concepts of power sharing have been implemented in all continents, and, in 2009, operate in at least 60 regions in 20 states. Particularly after World War II, the idea of autonomy for the protection of ethnic or national minorities and the resolution of self-determination conflicts became a political reality in various European states as well as in India. In most cases, regional autonomy provided the legal-political framework for the “internal self-determination” of a smaller or indigenous people or of an ethnic minority, preserving a specific ethnic-cultural identity while maintaining the sovereignty of the state in which they live. Not only could autonomy bring about peace and stability in conflict-ridden societies, but it could also enhance new partnerships between the central state and the regional community. #In the framework of the EURASIA-Network, an EU-funded exchange program of seven South Asian and European university departments, research institutes, and human rights institutions, the European Academy of Bolzano/Bozen (EURAC) has chosen the issue of regional autonomy for sharing experiences and insights highlighting its significance for the protection of human and minority rights and the resolution of ethnic conflicts. The publication, collecting twenty short essays by fifteen authors from both areas, should provide an overview of some of the most relevant cases of autonomy in Europe and South Asia. It aims to shed light on current developments in autonomous regions, as well as to explore the likelihood of implementing autonomy in societies still affected by ethnic conflict. The Editor‘s wish is to enhance a common critical discourse about autonomy and its potential to combine minority rights protection and self-government in South Asia and Europe.