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Explaining the Robustness and Longevity of the Åland Example in Comparison with Other Autonomy Solutions

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image of International Journal on Minority and Group Rights

The Åland Islands Settlement of 1921 before the League of Nations confirmed the domestic autonomy arrangement of 1920 in a conflict resolution context and at the same time added some special rights that the inhabitants of the Åland Islands would be allowed to enjoy. The international guarantees for the Swedish character of the islands have been changed in several respects over the years, either by the legislative assembly of the Åland Islands or by the Parliament of Finland with the consent of the legislative assembly of Åland. Although the international guarantee through the League of Nations disappeared through the dissolution of the organisation, the protection afforded by the international guarantee has actually continued. The autonomy of Åland can be placed in a group of autonomies together with a relatively large number of other similar entities, distinguishable from federal forms of organisation. The autonomy of Åland is strong because there is a clear distribution of competence between the national law-maker and the law-maker of Åland and because national law does not preempt or supersede legislation of the Åland Islands. The fact that this autonomy arrangement has existed in a national democratic environment that takes seriously not only its international commitments but also its own domestic commitments is probably a factor that strongly contributes to the robustness and longevity of the autonomy arrangement.

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


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