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Managing European Conflicts through Devolution: Lessons from the League of Nations


  • Erin K. Jenne


This paper conducts comparative historical analysis on three cases of devolution in interwar Europe (Aland Islands, Danzig and Memel) to identify the conditions under which devolving autonomy to minority regions is most likely to mitigate internal tensions. The analysis indicates that both advocates and detractors of devolution overstate the effects of this technique on ethnic tensions on the ground. This is because internal conflict is less responsive to domestic institutions than it is the wider geopolitical environment. While institutions can have an effect on the long-term tendency to engage in separatism, nested security on the regional and hegemonic levels may be a determining factor in whether autonomous institutions have an inhibiting or exacerbating effect on separatist conflict.

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  • Erin K. Jenne, 2010. "Managing European Conflicts through Devolution: Lessons from the League of Nations," EUI-RSCAS Working Papers 65, European University Institute (EUI), Robert Schuman Centre of Advanced Studies (RSCAS).
  • Handle: RePEc:erp:euirsc:p0265

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