Published in The SAIS Europe Journal of Global Affairs, vol. 10 (Spring 2007), the overall argument of this article is that rather than seeing paradiplomacy as a threat, it should be embraced as a necessity and opportunity in the process of managing and ultimately resolving what might otherwise be protracted self-determination conflicts. Following a brief conceptual introduction to what autonomy means, I explore the policy areas I which such entities participate in the international arena. I then make some general observations about opportunity and interest structures as factors that determine the practical scope of paradiplomacy and illustrate this with three western European examples – Flanders in Belgium, Catalonia in Spain, and Scotland in the United Kingdom. Finally I return to the question of whether paradiplomacy is indeed a challenge to state sovereignty and what its practical limits and opportunities are to contribute to the constructive management of self-determination conflicts.
This article is an open-access publication.