Jurisdiction Project

Jurisdiction Project Outline
Sub-National Island Jurisdictions [SNIJs] 

(The SNIJ Database has been compiled with the help of the following graduate student assistants – Faiz Ahmed, Jean-Louis Arsenault, Ryan Boulter, Hans Connor, Douglas Deacon, Crystal MacAndrew Fall, Barbara Groome Wynne, Laura Fanning, Heather Gushue, Lin Ma, Margaret Mizzi, Ryan O’Connor, Janice Pettit, Ariana Salvo – and Kathleen Stuart, who acted as overall graduate student coordinator.)

Pulling Strings is the name of a 200-page book based on the lessons that Prince Edward Island can draw from the ‘J Project’ material. Edited by Godfrey Baldacchino and Kathleen Stuart, it is published by Island Studies Press, and was launched at Province House, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, on March 20, 2008. (Contact the Institute of Island Studies for copies: (902) 894-2881 or iis@upei.ca.)
(Photos and Slide Show Sequence kindly prepared by Luke Baldacchino.)

Sub-National Island Jurisdictions [SNIJs] – An Introduction

 The world has a staggering number of ‘jurisdictions’ which occupy the fuzzy middle ground between sovereignty and municipality. 90% of these are islands, or on islands: a relationship which is probably spawned by the natural logistical tendency of an island to be self-administered, especially if it is remote from its metropolitan power.
In their majority, these jurisdictions are not seeking sovereign status; nor do they wish to lose their autonomous powers. And their metropolitan power is often all too willing to acquiesce.
This condition emerges as an increasingly rational and strategically appropriate one, resulting in net material gains for the jurisdiction, particular at a time when security concerns are real and when sovereignty has largely not delivered high levels of economic prosperity.
Being a sub-national island jurisdiction (SNIJ) bestows a solid safety net supported by, and an umbilical cord to, a metropolitan power while granting enough discretion to safeguard national identity, local culture and the general exercise of local power. The metropolitan power meanwhile can exercise ‘soft imperialism’ and can target beneficiaries with its munificence – which goes a very long way on a small land area and small population.

SNIJs – Prototypes of ‘Innovative Governance and Sustainable Development’

Populated SNIJs manifest creative, often unique, dynamic expressions of dyadic asymmetry within federal relationships.
The economic and political tools that they deploy are in part a function of a negotiated outcome of a bilateral relationship with a (usually benign) metropolitan power; a colonial inheritance; the vibrancy of a local ‘sub-nationalist’ culture; and the ability of governments to govern, represent and advance ‘sub-national’ interests.
SNIJs provide lessons in multi-level governance; how they have the capacity to act and interact in their [changing] environments; how equipped they are to navigate, and how well or badly they manage, the multiple levels of political economy; how they expose the limitations of sovereignty; how they provide evidence of alternative yet [in their own way] viable models of ‘sustainable development’.
SNIJs offer a ‘counter model’ of sustainability and development that is NOT based on large resource pools or scale economies, as enjoy large metropolitan, industrial or knowledge clusters.

SNIJs – Options for Research Focus

Research on SNIJs can adopt at least three different yet complimentary perspectives:
Examining the (mainly dyadic) relationship with the metropolitan or colonial power and its (cultural, legal, judicial, administrative) legacy: Antigua, Australia, Canada, Chile, China, Denmark, Ecuador, Finland, France, India, Japan, Malta Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Russia, Portugal, Spain, St Kitts, Tanzania, Trinidad, UK, USA, … and others.

Examining the levels or systems at which governance is operational, and their inter-relationship: sub-archipelagic; binary/dyadic; territorial/imperial; regional (such as European Union); global (such as WTO, FATF, UNESCO, UN)

Examining the resources or policy issues over which negotiation is practised, representation is challenged, and/or control is contested, maintained, given or taken: land use/ ownership, residency /citizenships, migration, diaspora links, terms of trade, social capital, culture, identity, security, banking, taxation, communication technologies, internet domains, business registration, trusteeship and stewardship, conflict resolution, labour standards, environment and ecology, on/ offshore marine resources.


SNIJs – Basket Cases for ‘Asymmetrical Federalism’

Most examples of asymmetrical federalism are on islands, or are mainly islands. They are found all over the world, bear different land areas and populations, and engage different levels of governance. They range from Taiwan (21.5 million) to Pitcairn (just 47 inhabitants). These islands, in spite of their diversity, are characterized by most of the following endowments:
They are non-sovereign states with however strong levels of internal autonomy, de jure [at law]or de facto [in practice].
They are sub-national, meaning that they continue to be associated with a, very much larger, sovereign state: in some cases, this would be their former colonial master.
They are sub-national, meaning that they have a distinct society and culture, and are often recognized as constituent ‘nations’ within the larger state.
They are islands or on islands, physically cut off from mainlands and often remote from their metropolitan powers and which thus present pragmatic cases for administrative autonomy.
Their citizenry supports local politicians who are neither integrationist nor sovereigntist, but who seek to exploit “the best of all possible worlds”, using their jurisdiction as a key economic and political resource.

Populated Sub-National Island, or mainly Island, Jurisdictions

(Inclusion in this [non-exhaustive and dynamic] list is not to be construed as an act of acknowledging the legitimacy or otherwise of any jurisdictional powers, de jure or de facto.
  1. West Atlantic/ Caribbean: (Anguilla, Aruba, Netherlands Antilles [Bonaire, Curacao, Saba, St Eustatius, St Maarten], Barbuda, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Montserrat, Nevis, Puerto Rico, San Andres y Providencia, Tobago, Turks & Caicos, US Virgin Islands). (20)
  2. South, Central & North-East Atlantic, related to Britain: (Alderney, Ascension, Falklands, Guernsey, Isle of Man, Jersey , Northern Ireland, Scotland, Shetland, St. Helena, Tristan da Cunha, Wales). (13)
  3. Scandinavia: (Åland, Bornholm, Faeroes, Gotland, Greenland, Hiiumaa, Lofoten, Saaremaa, Svalbard). (9)
  4. South Pacific: (Admiralty/Manus, American Samoa, Banaba, Bougainville, Chatham, Cocos/Keeling, Cook Islands, Easter Island/Rapa Nui, French Polynesia, Galapagos, Kosrae, Macquarie, New Caledonia, Niue, Norfolk, Pitcairn, Pohnpei, Rotuma, Tasmania, Tokelau, Torres Strait, Truk, Wallis & Futuna, Yap). (24)
  5. North-West Atlantic: (Baffin/Nunavut, Cape Breton, Îles de la Madeleine, Newfoundland & Labrador, Prince Edward Island, St Pierre et Miquelon). (6)
  6. Mediterranean and East Atlantic: Territories associated with European Union member/ applicant countries: (Azores, Akrotiri & Dhekelia, Balearics, Canaries, Corsica, Gozo, Madeira, North Cyprus. Sardinia, Sicily). (10)
  7. Indian Ocean/ East Africa: (Andaman & Nicobar, British Indian Ocean Territory, Kish, Lakshadweep, Mayotte, Njazidja, Mwali, Nzwani, Pemba, Reunion, Rodrigues, Socotra, Zanzibar). (13)
  8. South Asia, East Asia & North Pacific: (Aceh, Aleutians, Guam, Hainan, Hawai’i, Hong Kong, Jeju/Cheju, Labuan, Macao, Mindanao, Northern Marianas, Okinawa, Queen Charlotte Islands/Haida Gwaii, Sabah, Sarawak, Sakhalin & Kuriles, South Moluccas, Taiwan, Tamil Eilam). (19)
Total: 114