This article contends that three key characteristics in the context of self-determination conflicts are crucial in determining the institutional design of their settlement: the compactness of groups’ settlement patterns in a given state; the degree of ethnic heterogeneity in the territorial entities to which powers and competences of self-governance are to be assigned; and their significance relative to the rest of the state, leading to three core elements of institutional design that are variably present: territorial self-governance, and local and central power sharing. Examining eighteen individual cases of post-Cold War conflict settlements across thirteen countries in Africa, Asia and Europe, the article finds these assumptions to be largely correct and concludes with a number of suggestions for further theoretical and empirical investigation.