• Conference in the Åland Parliament

    Conference proceedings from the Åland Parliament seminar on 20 October 2021: ‘Demilitarisation and neutralisation – a stabilising force for peace in the region'
    Vol. 6 No. 1 (2022)


    The question of neutralisation and, even more so, demilitarisation, is a living theme in international politics – from demilitarised and very temporary humanitarian corridors to permanent arrangements for a long-term settlement of inter-state relations, as in the case of the Åland Islands.

    From time to time, demilitarisation is considered of no use or relevance – as in the case of the demilitarised zone between Norway and Sweden, revoked in 1993. In other instances, it becomes an important dimension of a regional security puzzle. At the time of writing this is certainly so with respect to the Åland Islands.

    In order to make demilitarisation effective it needs to be not only remembered but also understood and kept under active monitoring. The 1921 Åland Convention is a case in point, which illustrates both historic and current dimensions of the relevance of demilitarisation from a legal, political, and social perspective.

    For these reasons, the Journal of Autonomy and Security Studies chooses to dedicate its current issue to the Åland Parliament seminar on 20 October 2021, titled ‘Demilitarisation and neutralisation – a stabilising force for peace in the region’. The date is historic as it marks the passing of 100 years since the Åland Convention on the demilitarisation and neutralisation was signed. At the seminar, 30 ambassadors to Finland from countries all over the world, some of them signatories to the Convention, had a chance to acquaint themselves with demilitarisation and neutralisation as a living regime, confirmed in international law through several treaties since the end of the Crimean War in 1856.

    This special issue of JASS presents a series of speeches focusing on demilitarisation and includes contributions from the President of the Republic of Finland Sauli Niinistö, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Finland Pekka Haavisto, Sweden’s Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Robert Rydberg, and two of the foremost academic experts on the regime, Dr Sia Spiliopoulou Åkermark and Dr Åsa Gustafsson.  It is made clear how demilitarisation has been one of the foundations for a peaceful and prosperous development of relations in the Baltic Sea region.

    From a research perspective, the demilitarisation as a phenomenon and practice has not been a theme under focus comparable to many other international relations dimensions. It is our hope that this issue can inspire further reflections on the utility of demilitarisation.

    Kjell-Åke Nordquist, editor-in-chief

  • Diverse and colourful fabrics in a market. Photo by Eva Blue, Unsplash

    Journal of Autonomy and Security Studies: Constitutions as Conflict Management - Focus Africa
    Vol. 5 No. 2 (2021)

    The fundamental structure of lawmaking in states is, almost by definition, a set of rules that should not be up for conflict or revision as a recurrent theme of national politics. The role of the constitution is to play this particular role of an unquestioned guide to national power management.

    While constitutions themselves vary significantly in terms of size and level of detail – Iceland has a famously short constitution and Brazil a longer and more detailed constitution than most countries – their challenge is to find a design that makes them an accepted supra-layer of rules for lawmaking. When lawmaking is made within expected political horizons, the constitution is the document that sets the limit of those horizons.

    It is a widely accepted view that constitutions should formulate ideas and values that are common for the people and, as a consequence, its state. Views vary, however, when it comes to the next function of a constitution: how much further should a constitution regulate power distribution, accountability, and the decision-making process? In situations of internal conflict, not seldom over the formation of the state itself, such functions are critical to the very sustainability of the constitution, should it not be another issue of contestation in times to come.

    In this issue of Journal of Autonomy and Security Studies we are given the opportunity to reflect on the role and function of constitutions, and thereby of fundamental state structures, in situations of tension, (mis)management, and challenging power aspirations. The articles themselves reveal a set of wider issues – wider than the article format allows for – which we may bring further into a more general reflection on state formation principles. In this way, this issue of JASS, for all its content and relevance for specific empirical situations, brings us further into matters that deserve treatment in their own right – such as how constitutions relate to a history of conflict and disaster, an experience so common among states today.

    Kjell-Åke Nordquist