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Functional Autonomy: The Case of Finland with Some Notes on the Basis of International Human Rights Law and Comparisons with Other Cases

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image of International Journal on Minority and Group Rights

It is possible to distinguish functional autonomy, consisting of various administrative arrangement, as a specific form of autonomy on the top of territorial, cultural and personal autonomy. Functional autonomy may be understood as an organizational option for the provision of adequate linguistic services to a minority population in respect of a certain public function (such as education) by means of creating special linguistically identified administrative units at different hierarchical levels inside the general line-organization charged with the national or local administration of the public function. Language (and sometimes even religion) can be used as a divisor by which the principle of ‘separate but equal’ is implemented in ways that defy organizational characterizations commonly found in textbooks of administrative law or public administration. Functional autonomy is a pragmatic approach to the promotion of rights of a minority population and could be more commonly used.

Affiliations: 1: Professor of Public Law, Åbo Akademi University, Finland


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