Minorities in Western Europe have been subjected to discrimination and forced assimilation, and they have resisted such repressive state policies in a variety of ways. The ethnic conflicts that have developed in the past were a form of group conflict wherein at least one of the parties involved interpreted the conflict, its causes, and potential settlements along an existing or perceived discriminating ethnic divide. Whenever such a conflict has occurred in ethnically mixed areas bordering the kin-state of the aggrieved ethnic group, it manifests itself on three interrelated levels — inter-group conflict, conflict between the aggrieved minority and the institutions of its host-state, and the potential (territorial) conflict between host and kin-state.

Three case studies — Alsace, South Tyrol, and Northern Ireland — illustrate this point. Although each of these ethnic conflicts has developed in a unique environment, influenced by a variety of distinct factors, there are factors that consistently occur in each. Using these three cases, this article establishes the core factors that determine the nature of conflict settlement in ethno-territorial cross-border conflicts.