By allowing ethnic groups to organize areas important to them regardless of their geographic distribution, functional, overlapping and competing jurisdictions (FOCJ) have an important role to play in the management of ethnic conflict in plural societies. The functional devolution of powers which is intrinsic to FOCJ may be preferable to territorial devolution when minority groups are spatially dispersed or, when they are geographically concentrated but are in a numerical minority in their region. Even when minority groups are in a majority in their region functional rather than territorial devolution may dampen secessionist fears among members of the majority. A case can also be made for a degree of functional devolution to complement territorial devolution when territorial devolution to protect one minority leaves other ethnic groups in a minority situation. The application of FOCJ to the area of ethnic conflict management calls for institutional structures which take into account the possible efficiency of the monopoly supply of some public goods, the need to maintain ‘competitive equality’ among jurisdictions and the danger that the functional devolution which is inherent to FOCJ may harden group boundaries over time.
Kyriacou, A. P. (2006). Functional, Overlapping, Competing, Jurisdictions and Ethnic Conflict Management. Kyklos, 59(1), 63-83.