Recent conference on Minorities, Nations and Cultural Diversity

The recent conference on Minorities, Nations and Cultural Diversity. The Challenge of Non-Territorial Autonomy (NTA) held on 9-10 November 2012, Queen’s University, Belfast, Northern Ireland , examined in theory, empirically and through the work of legal practitioners, the challenges, and possible solutions offered by different models of NTA for the effective participation of minorities in public life. The keynote speech was delivered by the Right Honourable Charles Clarke.

A photograph of Charles Clarke taken by Martyn Housden delivering a keynote speech at the conference on Minorities, Nations and Cultural Diversity: The Challenge of Non-Territorial Autonomy,9-10 November 2012, Queen’s University, Belfast, Northern Ireland     ‌‌

Non-Territorial autonomy takes variety of different forms, such as Consociationalism and National Cultural Autonomy, but also forms of representation that de-territorialises self-determination, as in the case of indigenous communities, the juridical autonomy as with religious communities, or in the practice of some models of multiculturalism. Theoretical and comparative papers and case studies on NTA models were discussed.

Right Honourable Charles Clarke seated at Minorities, Nations and Cultural Diversity Conference, Queen's University Belfast, with Dave Smith.

The European Centre for Minority Issues (Flensburg, Germany), jointly with The School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy at Queen’s University Belfast, and the Centre for Russian, Central & Eastern European Studies (CRCEES), University of Glasgow callED upon interested scholars to participate in a multidisciplinary conference on the challenges of Non Territorial Autonomy (NTA) in a world of nation-states.

Cultural diversity is the norm in a world of nation-states. A recurrent problem is how to organise what are in fact, multi-ethnic and multi-nation states so that majorities and minorities are able to coexist and effectively participate in the life of the state, bolstering allegiance without suffering cultural alienation and without resorting to territorial secession. Multicultural liberal democracies sincerely champion equality and individual human rights, but often have considerable difficulties in accommodating culturally diverse minority communities. Territorial representation is only possible when minority communities inhabit a compact territorial space, yet in the majority of cases, minority communities do not reside compactly, making any territorial representation impossible. This situation often causes intractable problems for the functioning of democratic polities, and requiring modalities of non-territorial autonomy (NTA) as a solution.

First published: 27 November 2012