Territorial divisions come in many forms. They occur in both federal and unitary states, and may involve divisions based on religion, language, history and identity, as well as natural resources.

They can involve one region within a country or several. Because of the close association of territory and sovereignty, territorial divisions raise very high stakes issues, going to the heart of the definition the political community, national identity and statehood. They are often emotive and can seem intractable.

This Constitution Brief covers the spatial arrangement of public power through constitutional design. By changing the way in which public resources and power are allocated, and autonomy and identity are recognized, constitutional arrangements related to managing territorial divisions can be critical in transforming societal division and conflict to unity and peace.


Publication date
03 August 2018
Tom Ginsburg
Number of pages


1. Background 

2. Allocating powers and duties: federalism

3. Allocating powers and duties: decentralization and special autonomy

4. Central government design: rights, redistribution, representation and recognition

5. Central government design: guarantors and dispute resolution

6. Conclusion

References and further reading

Give us feedback

Do you have a question or feedback about this publication? Leave us your feedback, and we’ll get back to you

Send feedback

Constitutional Design for Territorially Divided Societies

Total views 6499
Downloads 28
Close tooltip