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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Divided and conquered : why states and self-determination groups fail in bargaining over autonomy

  • Author(s): Cunningham, Kathleen Gallagher
  • et al.

This dissertation examines the politics of self- determination and asks why some pairs of governments and minority populations can successfully renegotiate autonomy status while others are unable to do so. Disputes over self-determination are among the most common kind of conflict in the international system today and autonomy- based settlements are the most widely promoted solution. I argue that the internal structure of both movements for self-determination and national governments structures the negation process in these disputes and the incentives that both sides have for settlement. Previous explanations have treated both of these actors as unitary, ignoring important variation in the internal politics of self- determination movements and governments. I test my theory using two types of analysis - a quantitative study of self -determination disputes from 1960 to 2003 and a set of case studies within France and India. The quantitative analysis reveals that the internal structure of self- determination movements and governments has a systemic effect on both autonomy settlements and conflict. Governments with a moderate number of internal actors that can hold up policy change are most likely to implement an autonomy agreement. In contrast, self-determination movements with many internal factions are most likely receive autonomy, followed by very cohesive movements. Self-determination movements with a moderate number of internal factions are least likely to receive autonomy and most likely to be in conflict. The comparison of French government negotiations with the Corsicans since 1970 demonstrates that overcoming internal barriers to devolving autonomy at the national level was a major determinant of the type of deal the Corsicans received. Moreover, my comparison of three Indian self-determination movements illustrates the importance of coordination within divided movements and demonstrates that the Indian government responded strategically to the divisions within these movements

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