Federalism has been used increasingly as a tool of conflict resolution in states that have faced violence between different groups. Countries such as Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ethiopia, Iraq and Nepal have introduced federalism in order to hold divided societies together. Yet, while there is a growing body of literature on the use of federalism in post-conflict societies, overall, the empirical evidence on the usefulness of federalism as a tool to overcome violence and lay the foundations for democracy remains mixed. In some countries, such as Bosnia and Nepal, federalism has contributed to the end of violence. However, in countries such as Iraq, and Sudan (after 2005), the introduction of a federal system has been linked with ongoing instability and further calls for secession. This chapter looks at the factors that make federalism work, and outlines a future research agenda on the use of federalism as a tool of conflict resolution.
Soeren Keil and Paul Anderson
This chapter examines the increasing use of decentralization as a tool of conflict resolution. Starting from the point that there has been an increase of intrastate conflicts in the post-Cold War era, it highlights how different forms of decentralization have been used in order to bring warring parties together, provide autonomy for certain groups and ensure a fair distribution of resources. While the logic behind using decentralization as a conflict resolution tool might seem obvious, it is not without its challenges. In particular, evidence from numerous case studies suggests that decentralization mainly works if connected to other forms of power sharing such as grand coalitions and minority veto rights. In addition, decentralization might lay the foundation for further calls for autonomy and ultimately might lead some groups to declare independence and secede. Yet, as the chapter points out, often there are no viable alternatives to decentralization in violent intrastate conflict.