Overlapping territorial sovereignty

There are two secession referendums almost at the same time, a good opportunity to finally write about an old idea of mine.

The core problem with a secession is in my opinion the instinct of the central government that loses power. It loses power over its supposedly own people, which makes its insistence unsympathetic.

It would be most desirable to find a way how poorly-devised borders could be redrawn peacefully and how to govern areas with very much fractured population effectively, peacefully and well.

example: Bosnia ethnic map in 1991. There was no obvious right way of drawing a border.
(c) Milan1237

another example: linguistic map of Iran
One way how people in a fractured region can live together is that one group or a coalition of groups dominates the region, with undesirable oppression of one or several other groups. That's a powder keg if the oppressed minorities are large enough, as can be seen in former Yugoslavia, in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Another way is proportionate representation. One group always gets the head of state office, another group always gets the head of government office, another group always gets the head of parliament office and so on. Minorities could also have political privileges, such as the Danish minority in Germany close to the Danish border.

I'd like propose a different way, one that might ease it for the central government to give up (some) control:

The classic idea of a state includes the concept of well-determined borders. These may be in dispute or poorly marked, but there's always the claim of unlimited sovereignty over a certain area on this planet. It's sometimes simply not possible to draw "correct" borders on a map without previous ethnic cleansing. So we need to give up this exclusive sovereignty concept if we want sustainable political order without oppression and without ethnic cleansing in the very ethnically fragmented areas of this world.

Think about a simple model: There are the countries A, B and C with corresponding ethnicities a, b and c. The ethnicity c lives in state C, but the states A and B have a dispute about a region where a and b live intermingled.

Now my proposal is to create a shared sovereignty over this area of intermingled ethnicities. The a people pay taxes to A and have an A passport, b do the same with B. Affairs between a and a would be settled by A (civil and criminal) law, affairs between b and b would be settled by B law. Affairs between a and b, a and c or b and c in the intermingled area would be settled by AB consensus law (devised by the political system of the population in the intermingled AB area with veto right for both A and B).
An attack of C against A would lead to A defending itself with a resources. An attack of C on B would lead to B defending itself with b resources. An attack of C on the intermingled AB territory would lead to A and B fighting back with a and b resources respectively.

Additionally, there should be an effort to emphasise programmatic politics in the AB area; the people should be divided in politics by left/right or other ideologies, not by ethnic divisions.
This model can be applied in regard to a secession as well. A secession  of a region would only happen if the regional majority ethnicity isn't the same as the ethnicity that dominates the central government. Thus there would be no veto necessary to protect that regional majority ethnicity, while the region's minority ethnicity would still enjoy minority protection through the former central government's veto right.

This is far from the traditional idea of how states work, but that traditional idea serves poorly in areas with intermingled populations. So mankind should keep looking for better ways of governance.



  1. In state A, rapists are hung by the neck until dead
    In state B, rape victims are tied to a pole and rocks are thrown at them until they are dead.

    The consensus position would be?
    And thats why we get ethnic/cultural cleansing.

    I'm not sure many people want a return to a system where there a different punishments for killing a white man or a black man.

    What happens if an A citizen wants to defect to a B jurisdiction?

    1. There's nowhere such a stark contrast in culture between neighbours because the environment influences culture a lot.