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The Åland Islands Peace Institute

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Publication about
the Åland Example

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Sarah StephanResearcher Sarah Stephan has been awarded the Jubilee-stipend of the Parliament of Åland in 2013 for studying the legal-institutional accommodation of autonomies in the framework of Nordic co-operation as part of a wider study on the position of autonomies in international law. Sarah’s case-study on Norden has now been published within the report series European Autonomy and Diversity Papers at the European Academy in Bolzano. You can download the paper entitled “Making Autonomies Matter: Sub-State Actor Accommodation in the Nordic Council and the Nordic Council of Ministers” here. For the Åland Peace Blog, Sarah has also written a blog piece that summarizes her article, entitled “Making autonomies matter: a case study on autonomy accommodation” which can be found here.

 Sovereign powers are not absolute but exercised in varying areas and to varying degrees by sub-state, state and supra-state entities. The upward dispersion of power to international organisations carries implications for the sub-state level, while sub-state governance poses demands as to the conduct of governance at the international level. It is well recognised that sub-state entities, such as federal states and autonomies, may have the (restricted) capacity to enter into international relations. But what capacities do international organisations have to accommodate autonomies in their institutional frameworks? This paper shall present a case study of one such framework, namely Nordic co-operation and the accommodation of the Nordic autonomies, the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Åland, within its institutional framework. Within ‘Norden’, the position of autonomies has been scrutinised and adapted on several occasions, in the late 1960s, early 1980s and in the mid-2000s. The accommodation of the autonomies has been discussed in light of evident implications of statehood and international legal personality and the institutional arrangements eventually carved serve well to illustrate the challenges and opportunities international organisations face in the attempt to accommodate multi-level systems.

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