Non-Territorial Autonomy

The public management of equality in diverse multicultural societies has implications for all levels of government. In terms of territorial management, devolution of powers to ethno-cultural minority groups residing in homeland regions requires self-government institutions. In terms of non-territorial management, non-discrimination measures ensure equality of individuals, while special rights for ethno-cultural groups protect alternative ways of life. The latter has proven not only controversial to justify but also difficult to transpose into public policies. Special policies for ethno-cultural minority groups that are not territorially defined and wish to have a say in maintaining and nurturing their own culture pose challenges especially to policy-makers constrained by traditional views of Westphalian sovereignty and state-centrist institutional approaches. They are now coming under pressure from unexpected forces. New migration flows, diminishing and environmentally unsafe natural resources as well as global crises contribute not only to the emergence of a new global order of inequality but also to unpredicted pressure on power structures. This forces policy-makers to rethink diversity management concerning ethno-cultural minority groups. Thus, new paradigms of public management have to be found and institutionalized in the changing power structures of late-modern society.

Non-territorial autonomy (NTA) for ethno-cultural minority groups range from formal self-government arrangements to informal programmatic co-decision type arrangements. The aim is to protect against assimilation and to give ethno-cultural minorities a voice in matters related to them. NTA arrangements are special rights that pertain to ethno-cultural minorities whose identity forms on the basis of ethnicity, religion, race, mother-tongue language or kin-state identity as opposed to universal, non-discrimination rights for social groups, such as the disabled or the poor.  While the overall goal is social cohesion, the specific purpose is justice and equality.

Unfortunately, NTA policy-making is vastly under-explored in academia. While policy studies have focused mainly on territorial autonomy settlements and anti-discrimination policies, and the social sciences have focused on justification of NTA, little has been written about how to design viable NTA policies. The design, functioning and implementation of NTA policies in public management have been neglected. There exists, therefore, a gap in academic knowledge with regard to the public management of NTA arrangements for non-territorial ethno-cultural minority groups. This series of five books seeks to remedy this gap.

The European Centre for Minority Issues (ECMI) in Flensburg, Germany, embarked on a new research effort with a number of partners in 2012 to address the role of ethno-cultural minorities in the public management of diverse societies. While the overall aim is to inform the diversity management policy discourse about viable strategies, the specific goal is to fill the knowledge gap in academic research on NTA arrangements. Through descriptions, analyses and evaluation, the challenges to the application and implementation of existing and emerging models of NTA will be examined. Through this research effort, the ECMI wishes to   

  • Improve academic knowledge of models and policies of NTA through a compilation and description of comprehensive empirical data;
  • Assess the good and bad examples of NTA policy through a categorization and critical analysis of the aims of models;
  • Explain the challenges of NTAs to policy-makers through a contextualization and critical assessment of contemporary Westphalian discourses on diversity management;
  • Assess the potential for new paradigms through examination of alternative and emerging NTA arrangements.  

The results will be disseminated through the ECMI publications and a 5-volume series in co-operation with Oxford University Press. Two edited volumes have been publishes in 2015.  See the ECMI webpage on External Publications.

The Programme also co-operates with the multi-partner co-operation Autonomy Arrangements of the World. See website here


Prof. Dr. Tove Malloy

Dr. Ljubica Đorđević-Vidojković

ECMI founders:

The German Federal GovernmentThe German
Federal Government
The Danish GovernmentThe Danish
The Federal State Schleswig-HolsteinThe Federal State