SIT Switzerland Academic Director Presents Paper at United Nations on Theory and Practice of Autonomies in Europe

Academic Director Dr. Gyula Csurgai at the international research seminar “Representativity and Legitimacy in Autonomy Negotiations” at the UN

Academic Director Dr. Gyula Csurgai (right) at the UN

On March 21, 2013, Dr. Gyula Csurgai, academic director of the Switzerland: International Studies and Multilateral Diplomacy program, presented a paper at the United Nations in Geneva. The paper discussed different approaches to local and territorial autonomies and protecting minority rights as a means of preventing ethnic conflicts.

In addition, Dr. Csurgai contributed to a panel consisting of the international research seminar “Representativity and Legitimacy in Autonomy Negotiations” organized by the Kingdom of Morocco. The objective of this seminar was to draw lessons and identify best practices from existing autonomy arrangements in different parts of the world in order to enhance the reflections on the possibility for autonomy of the Western Sahara region.

Dr. Csurgai’s presentation highlighted the rather positive example of the regional autonomy of South Tyrol in Italy, which has contributed not only to the preservation of the cultural identity of the German-speaking minority there, but also to the socioeconomic development of the region in recent decades. He also emphasized the necessity to revisit the principles of self-determination and sovereignty in contemporary international relations in order to avoid an uncontrolled fragmentation of multi-ethnic states.

His paper was distributed at the UN and will soon be published in English and French. The event was attended by a range of diplomats and representatives of governments and nongovernmental organizations.

Other experts on the panel included Miss Shadia Marhaban, President of the Aceh Women’s League and former negotiator of the Helsinki Accords that led to the autonomy of the Aceh Region in Indonesia, and Dr. Marc Weller, professor and director of the Lauterpacht Centre for International Law at the University of Cambridge.

Dr. Csurgai has a doctorate in geopolitics and two master’s degrees from the University of Geneva. See a list of Dr. Csurgai’s recent publications and complete CV.

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