Ruth Lapidoth is professor of international law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague. As legal adviser to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs during the early post–Camp David peace process, she participated actively in negotiations on Palestinian autonomy. She was a fellow at the United States Institute of Peace in 1990–91.
From Chechnya to Bosnia, from the Kurds to the Palestinians, demands for separatism are fueling bitter and bloody conflicts. Yet, as this innovative study demonstrates, disputes between central governments and independence-minded minorities need not always escalate into violence and secession. Autonomy, by virtue of its essential adaptability, can offer a workable and peaceful compromise.
Ruth Lapidoth first dissects the concept of autonomy, exploring its origins, examining the roles it can play, and distinguishing among its types. With scrupulous objectivity, she then presents more than a dozen richly documented case studies of autonomy in action. Drawn from four continents and detailing failures as well as successes, these studies underline autonomy’s variety and versatility. Lapidoth’s pragmatic approach and impeccable scholarship frame the issues and lay out the factors likely to foster successful outcomes.