Journal of Autonomy and Security Studies
Volume 2 – Issue 1
A major issue for any settlement of a political conflict is the extent to which the principles of a given settlement should be maintained even if the contextual circumstances for the settlement are changing, and at worst are making the principles less relevant or even irrelevant. Autonomy legislation and other forms of formal regulations are not an exception to this problematique.
The present issue of JASS provides an update on legislative and political developments on the Åland Islands through a comparative study that examines the work of three distinct committees which form part of the ongoing revision process of the Autonomy Act within the Republic of Finland. The two entities – the Finnish state and the Åland Islands parliament – have earlier revised thoroughly, and on two occasions, the Autonomy Act, which was first installed in 1920 and expanded in 1922. The ambition on the islands is to update the legislation with the occasion of the centenary of the Åland Islands’ autonomy.
An important dimension of the Åland autonomous system, with its minority and identity related dimensions, is the regulation of the right to ownership of property. Few, if any, aspects of identity have such strong connotations to territoriality and security. It fits well in the context of autonomy revision to focus particularly on the right to property ownership and its development in recent times. In particular, it is interesting to study the difference, and maybe similarities, between a rights’ discussion based on international conventions on the rights of minorities, on the one hand, and the rights that the Åland Islands inhabitants enjoy – rights originally formulated long before the human rights system started to develop into its modern forms.
The main question of this article is what intentions Åland and Finland hold regarding the self-government of Åland, and how this is mirrored in the ongoing process for a revision of the Åland Autonomy Act. This matter is studied through a comparison of three central documents in the revision process, issued by three parliamentary committees, one Ålandic, one Finnish, and one joint.
The article analyses how the parties describe the background and development of Åland’s autonomy, the original purpose of the autonomy, and the aims for the fourth generation of autonomy legislation. Some concrete proposals for changes in the Autonomy Act are discussed in order to see if the intentions of the two parties coincide or differ. The article concludes that the committees mainly agree on the foundations of the autonomy.
The principle of protection of language and culture seems to be rather unproblematic, whereas it is unclear how far the parties are willing to go regarding the right of Åland to manage its own affairs. For instance, the committees have identified the division of legislative competences and the economic system as two crucial domains in the revision. Åland is interested to extend its mandate in those spheres further than at least the Government of Finland seems to be willing to allow.
The aim of this research is to contribute to current debates surrounding Åland’s autonomy regime by seeking a fuller understanding of the origins and the evolving role of rules restricting outsiders from acquiring landed property in the autonomous Åland Islands region of Finland. The autonomy and minority protection regime that prevails in Åland is of particularly long standing, and the conditions that have shaped the evolution of Åland’s land rules have changed considerably during the nearly 100 years of their application.
The article also briefly considers the relationship between the evolving Åland land rules and more recent efforts to articulate and justify exclusive rights to traditional homelands in other settings, and particularly those involving minorities and indigenous peoples. The article describes the way understandings of the role played by the land rules have evolved over time, proceeding from the fundamental significance of the rules in protecting Åland’s cultural identity and examining their perceived economic significance, as well as the role they have played in Åland’s ongoing political engagement with mainland Finland.
The paper concludes that while the land rules have served to protect the Åland cultural identity, there will be continuing pressure for them to be implemented with greater predictability and clarity as the autonomy
regime on Åland matures.
The course is an introduction to territorial autonomy in theory and practice, and draws on the so-called “Åland Example”. The aim of the course is to provide participants with a broad academic framework for discussing territorial autonomy from different perspectives, among others against the background of concepts such as self-determination, power-sharing and minority rights.
The Åland Example is used as the main case study. We will discuss the demilitarisation and neutralisation, the autonomy regime, as well the cultural and linguistic safeguards pertaining to Åland. A focus will be on the development of the regime over time, including more recent shifts in the regime. The course will also discuss the relevance of territorial autonomy as a possible tool for conflict resolution. Students shall be encouraged to critically reflect upon the relevance of autonomy as a potential solution to ethno-political conflicts.
The course will be taught online on a digital e-learning platform through a rich selection of resources including course literature, audio and video material, and a discussion forum.
The editors welcome submissions of manuscripts that focus on, or relate to, the topics and intersections of security, autonomy arrangements, and minority issues. Apart from reviewed articles JASS also welcomes other kinds of contributions, such as essays, book reviews, conference papers and research related project notes.
Articles should not exceed 12 000 words (excluding references) and be written in British or American English. For other contributions, such as book reviews, conference reports, project- and research notes, the maximum length is 4 000 words. The layout of the text should be in single-column format and kept as simple as possible.
Manuscripts to be considered for Issue II/2018 are invited for review by 1st of September 2018. The core theme for this Issue shall be demilitarisation, neutralisation and contemporary peace and security trends.
The deadline for Issue I/2019 is 15th of January 2019.
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Journal of Autonomy and Security Studies - ISSN 2489-4265
The Åland Islands Peace Institute
AX-22101 Mariehamn, Åland, Finland