How to assist separatists in breaking up a country... or, rather, not: The role of decentralization and development assistance
The international community is usually set against secessionist movements that threaten to break up existing states. At the same time, many fragmented countries receive development aid, which influences the political process there. The model presented here seeks to answer two questions: “Is decentralization a suitable tool to appease separatist movements and prevent a secession?”, and “Can development policies can be designed in a way that they don’t unwillingly trigger secession as a side effect?”. Using a framework frequently applied in the literature on secession, it turns out (a) that under certain conditions a secession threat can be used by a minority region to gain a higher level of decentralization than the larger part of the country would prefer, and (b) that a secession threat might undermine aid policies that focus directly on poverty reduction or on the improvement of governance, especially where they are not accompanied by (additional) decentralization. – It can be shown that the results are robust to a relaxation of initial simplifications.
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