Resolving Territorial Self-determination Conflicts

Territorial self-determination conflicts are conflicts in which territorially concentrated identity groups (whose identity is, in part, derived from association with this territory, or homeland, in which they reside) demand to exercise their right to self-determination. Self-determination claims made by territorially concentrated groups refer to a group’s expressed preference for self-government and can range from demands for independent statehood, unification with another state, territorial self-governance within an existing state, and non-territorial self-governance (or cultural autonomy). The resulting conflicts are often violent and at times protracted. However, they can be, and have been, resolved successfully. There are two principal types of solutions. External territorial solutions, chiefly independent statehood (achieved qua secession or partition) or unification with another state (qua irredenta) are very rare, even if one considers the cases of the former Soviet Union and ex-Yugoslavia in this category of solutions. Far more frequent are internal territorial solutions for which I use the broad umbrella term of territorial self-governance (TSG) and which are the focus of the comparative exploration in this working paper.