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Decentralization and Intrastate Struggles
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Book description

There is no one-size-fits-all decentralized fix to deeply divided and conflict-ridden states. One of the hotly debated policy prescriptions for states facing self-determination demands is some form of decentralized governance - including regional autonomy arrangements and federalism - which grants minority groups a degree of self-rule. Yet the track record of existing decentralized states suggests that these have widely divergent capacity to contain conflicts within their borders. Through in-depth case studies of Chechnya, Punjab and Québec, as well as a statistical cross-country analysis, this book argues that while policy, fiscal approach, and political decentralization can, indeed, be peace-preserving at times, the effects of these institutions are conditioned by traits of the societies they (are meant to) govern. Decentralization may help preserve peace in one country or in one region, but it may have just the opposite effect in a country or region with different ethnic and economic characteristics.


'Kristin M. Bakke has produced the best and most systematic study to date on how decentralization can impact prospects for peace and stability in countries facing separatist threats. Challenging prominent preexisting approaches, this book treats decentralization not as a single act that then generates one outcome or another, but instead as the institutionalization of a certain set of processes that shape relationships between center and periphery. The impact of decentralization is thus neither uniformly positive nor negative but depends crucially on context, in particular the nature of the identity divides facing the country and patterns of wealth distribution across and within regions. … Decentralization and Intrastate Struggles will be important for anyone who is interested in federalism, ethnic conflict, and post-conflict settlement.'

Henry Hale - George Washington University

'For decades, both scholars and policy makers have debated the advantages and disadvantages of decentralization in maintaining peace in divided societies; but with little resolution about when it might be desirable. Until now. … Bakke weaves together a compelling set of arguments, statistical analysis, and deeply researched case studies of Chechnya, Punjab, and Quebec to reduce a potentially bewildering array of plausible explanatory factors to the interactions of just a few: the interplay between states and regions, and autonomy and societal traits. The result is a satisfying and useful general explanation unpacking the conditions under which decentralization is war-provoking or peace-preserving.'

Monica Duffy Toft - Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford

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