Handbook of Territorial Politics
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Handbook of Territorial Politics

Edited by Klaus Detterbeck and Eve Hepburn

The study of territorial politics has enjoyed a renaissance in the last thirty years. Scholars have questioned the state-centric assumptions upon which mainstream social science has been built, pointing to the territorial (re)distribution of power across and within states. This Handbook brings together leading scholars to demonstrate how territory has shaped institutional structures, public policies, elections, political parties, and identity across the world. Offering theoretical, comparative and empirical insights, this book provides a comprehensive overview of the impact of territory on modern political, economic and social life.
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Chapter 7: Decentralization as a tool for conflict resolution

Soeren Keil and Paul Anderson

Abstract

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.

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