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Federalism and Secession: At Home and Abroad

Posted: 27 Feb 2001  

Will Kymlicka

Queen's University; Queen's University - Faculty of Law


Western democracies have developed a number of effective models for accommodating ethnocultural diversity. One of these involves the use of federal or quasi-federal forms of territorial autonomy to enable self-government for national minorities and indigenous peoples. I believe that these forms of territorial autonomy are in general a success. The merits of these models have been underestimated, however, because many people measure success by an inappropriate criterion: namely, the absence of secessionist mobilization. This cannot be the correct standard for evaluating democratic multination states. The success of western approaches to territorial autonomy is related, in a complex way, to a particular view about the legitimacy and perhaps even inevitability of secessionist mobilization.

Keywords: Secession, ethnocultural diversity, multination federalism, minorities

Suggested Citation

Kymlicka, Will, Federalism and Secession: At Home and Abroad. Canadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence, Vol. 13, No. 2, July 2000. Available at SSRN:

Will Kymlicka (Contact Author)

Queen's University ( email )

Kingston, Ontario K7L 3N6


Queen's University - Faculty of Law ( email )

Macdonald Hall
Kingston, Ontario K7L 3N6 K7L3N6

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