Peace and conflict resolution in the midst of a war: opportunities and challenges in Rojava democratic autonomy
Duman, Yasin (2015) Peace and conflict resolution in the midst of a war: opportunities and challenges in Rojava democratic autonomy. [Thesis]
Discussions on political autonomies have been centered on two main arguments. Some argue that political autonomy is an effective conflict resolution mechanism especially in the settings where social, political, and economic conflicts are common and the autonomy seekers want a political and administrative resolution. De-centralization and power-sharing are two main pillars of political autonomies in which local citizens get the right to rule themselves with their own local resources without changing national borders of a state. Some others however discuss political autonomy as a conflict escalating tool, particularly, if an ethnic group has a strong motivation for independence and state-building. To this end, in the light of the existing literature on autonomy, this thesis investigates the nature of the Rojava Democratic Autonomy (RDA) declared in January 2014 in the midst of a civil war in Syria. In-depth interviews were conducted with the heads and deputies of official bodies and civil society organizations in Cezîre (Jazeera) Canton of RDA to investigate how they perceive both the past and ongoing socio-political and ethnoreligious conflicts in Syria, and what strategies and policies they implement to resolve them. The thesis evaluates the resolution practices based on RDA’s relation with the Syrian government (national), regional and international powers (international) and with its civil society organizations (domestic). The thesis also discusses the RDA policies and strategies for solving the socio-political and ethno-religious conflicts through power-sharing and by providing group autonomies to all ethnic and religious groups based on the Social Contract drafted by members of all ethnic and religious groups in Rojava. Besides presenting these solutions, the thesis also discusses the already-existing problems as stated by the participants of this study. Keywords: Rojava Democratic Autonomy, Syrian Civil War, de-centralization, selfmanagement, power-sharing, conflict resolution and peace.
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