Territorial Autonomy and Self-Determination Conflicts: Opportunity and Willingness Cases from Bolivia, Niger, and Thailand
International Catalan Institute for Peace, Working Paper No. 2010/1
71 Pages Posted: 12 Jul 2011
Date Written: April 2010
The paradox of autonomy is about whether self-rule accommodates or exacerbates armed conflict. This study attempts to unpack the puzzle examining the effectiveness of territorial autonomy as a state response to self-determination conflicts throughout the world. It challenges the conflict-inducing features of autonomy arguing that territorial autonomy can mitigate armed conflict by channeling group grievances into peaceful forms of protest. Thus, this study aims at arriving at a comprehensive theory that identifies which factors are responsible for violent escalation of conflicts grounded in self-determination demands. By using the concepts of opportunity structures and willingness dimension, this study shows that conflict escalation only takes place when minorities with greater bargaining power vis-à-vis the center, in contexts of high levels of economic inequality within dyad, are mobilized around autonomy and separatist demands.
Keywords: territorial autonomy, self-determination conflicts, opportunity structures, willingness dimension, escalation/de-escalation, dyadic relationship
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