• Conference Proceedings: Regional Security in the North, Nuclear Risks and Possible Solutions
    Vol. 7 No. 2 (2023)


    For this Issue of Journal of Autonomy and Security Studies (JASS) we have the pleasure to have Dr Katariina Simonen as guest editor. Her solid anchoring in the international Pugwash Movement is the foundation upon which this Issue rests. JASS is grateful for the cooperation and we look forward to contributions from the Pugwash Movement in coming Issues as well.

    Kjell-Åke Nordquist





    Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs and the Åland Islands Peace Institute organized in January 2023 consultations on regional security in the north from the Baltic Sea region to the Arctic. Pugwash Conferences is a network of high-level scientists and policy-makers, established in 1957 by eminent scientists such as Albert Einstein and Joseph Rotblat, which promotes a world free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. Pugwash’s long-standing tradition of “dialogue across divides”, that also earned it the Nobel Peace Price in 1995, aims to develop and support the use of scientific, evidence-based policymaking focusing on areas where nuclear and WMD risks are present. By facilitating track 1.5 and track II dialogues, Pugwash fosters creative discussions on ways to increase the security of all sides and promote policy development that is cooperative and forward-looking.

    These January consultations were deemed timely by Pugwash, due to the strongly deteriorated security environment between the west and Russia. The signs of such deterioration were already perceptible since the early 2000s in the field of arms control, when arms control and disarmament treaties fell like dominoes. Such developments were coupled with massive nuclear weapon modernization programs by all nuclear weapon states. Even more, many European States, including Finland, Sweden and the Baltic States, neglected to ensure that their national arms control expertise was up to date. Priorities were elsewhere in distant wars against terrorism, crisis management, migration flows, media and think tanks echoing national priorities. Nuclear weapons were forgotten.

    It goes without saying that comprehensive, high-quality situational awareness is a necessity for risk management and arms control. These January 2023 consultations were organized to help with recreating arms control expertise in our northern region. Presentations were made by different Pugwash groups and NGOs from Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Norway, Russia and Sweden. Most of these are now published here as conference proceedings.

    The focus of the articles follows the scheme of the original consultations, which were divided between the Baltic and the Arctic regions. Three articles discuss NATO´s post Cold War approaches to Russia in NATO´s eastern flank countries, territorial disarmament issues from an international lawyer´s perspective, and the feminist approach to Sweden´s sudden change of mind towards NATO. The other three full articles discuss thoroughly the Arctic, thereby developing situational awareness for risk management. In addition, there
    are two commentaries on concrete Baltic Sea security concerns as well as on nuclear risks,
    treaties and disarmament advocacy.

    To end, Albert Einstein, one of the founding fathers of Pugwash, was famous for his many quotes. One of these quotes captures aptly the dire necessity to understand nuclear risks of the current era where one of the key nuclear weapon states is engaged in armed conflict:
    “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”

    Guest editor
    Katariina Simonen, LL.D. (juris doktor) international law (Univ. of Turku), Adjunct Professor(National Defence University), Visiting Scholar (Department of World Cultures, Univ. of Helsinki) and Pugwash Council Member (2013-)



  • Global interests, polarisation, and territorial challenges
    Vol. 7 No. 1 (2023)

    The Russian invasion of Ukraine has created a polarisation on a global level that is seldom seen in times following the end of the Cold War. Beyond the surface of alleged Russian unity, the dynamics of Russia’s political actions during the invasion, such as the declared independence of the Ukrainian regions of Luhansk and Donetsk as independent states, has created new life and inspiration to several ethnically defined regions within the Russian Federation - regions which think that if these Ukrainian territories can go independent, why can’t we?

    The point here is not to discuss Russia’s political future, but to make the observation that war and armed conflicts, usually taking place on various levels of intensity, do not only affect immediate and proclaimed purposes, but have repercussions on different concerned levels where political actors are formed and active. The global state system is from this point of view never monolithic, stable, or fully predictable. Instead actors are moving between levels, as the day-to-day situation allows for furthering one’s political interests. In brief, whether being a state or a sub-state unit, global politics matters, and sometimes creates issues that are necessary to deal with, being they an imposition from outside or an opportunity seen from inside.

    The contributions in this issue of the Journal of Autonomy and Security Studies all give interesting perspectives on the challenges that states and territories inside states are sharing in dealing with the surrounding world. Here we find articles on an interstate, international organisation (ASEAN), on the possibilities of non-state actors in a less organised region, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), and finally a reflection on the management of great power competition and meddling into internal state and intra-state territorial interests.

    In brief, this issue reminds us about the complexity of this world - something particularly valuable in times when a simplistic polarisation is getting increasingly common in global analyses.


    Kjell-Åke Nordquist, Editor-in-chief

  • Challenges to Peace in Ethnically Diverse Societies: Security, Memory and Language
    Vol. 6 No. 2 (2022)

    This issue of JASS is released at a time when the world holds its breath over major, almost cataclysmic confrontations taking place between and within a few countries. While we recognise the urgency of immediate threat and suffering, we consider it to be this Journal´s mandate to offer analysis and insight into the more subtle expressions of peace work and conflict management – even resolution.

    With such a point of departure, we shall be grateful for the many mechanisms and legal structures that within and between states create not only order but equality, ownership, and ways of expressing views and defending interests. It is not sufficient to stay with the concept of democracy as a general solution to all the possible problems that arise when states organise their affairs - even if it is a sine qua non for any long-term peace-building. The rights of groups and individuals may require more sophisticated systems of organisation - from international agreements to national constitutions to local level applications - if a decent level of welfare, protection and development shall be obtained. 

    Major wars should not cast shade over the myriad of peace-building efforts that people and their institutions carry out on a daily basis. Each country has its own conditions under which such things happen.

    In this Issue of Journal of Autonomy and Security Studies, we will be acquainted with a few quite different political contexts and how they manage their pasts in light of ambitions for the future under the conditions framed by their constitutional contexts of self-rule and security challenges. It is exciting reading. 




    Kjell-Åke Nordquist


  • Conference proceedings from the Åland Parliament seminar on 20 October 2021: ‘Demilitarisation and neutralisation – a stabilising force for peace in the region'
    Vol. 6 No. 1 (2022)


    The question of neutralisation and, even more so, demilitarisation, is a living theme in international politics – from demilitarised and very temporary humanitarian corridors to permanent arrangements for a long-term settlement of inter-state relations, as in the case of the Åland Islands.

    From time to time, demilitarisation is considered of no use or relevance – as in the case of the demilitarised zone between Norway and Sweden, revoked in 1993. In other instances, it becomes an important dimension of a regional security puzzle. At the time of writing this is certainly so with respect to the Åland Islands.

    In order to make demilitarisation effective it needs to be not only remembered but also understood and kept under active monitoring. The 1921 Åland Convention is a case in point, which illustrates both historic and current dimensions of the relevance of demilitarisation from a legal, political, and social perspective.

    For these reasons, the Journal of Autonomy and Security Studies chooses to dedicate its current issue to the Åland Parliament seminar on 20 October 2021, titled ‘Demilitarisation and neutralisation – a stabilising force for peace in the region’. The date is historic as it marks the passing of 100 years since the Åland Convention on the demilitarisation and neutralisation was signed. At the seminar, 30 ambassadors to Finland from countries all over the world, some of them signatories to the Convention, had a chance to acquaint themselves with demilitarisation and neutralisation as a living regime, confirmed in international law through several treaties since the end of the Crimean War in 1856.

    This special issue of JASS presents a series of speeches focusing on demilitarisation and includes contributions from the President of the Republic of Finland Sauli Niinistö, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Finland Pekka Haavisto, Sweden’s Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Robert Rydberg, and two of the foremost academic experts on the regime, Dr Sia Spiliopoulou Åkermark and Dr Åsa Gustafsson.  It is made clear how demilitarisation has been one of the foundations for a peaceful and prosperous development of relations in the Baltic Sea region.

    From a research perspective, the demilitarisation as a phenomenon and practice has not been a theme under focus comparable to many other international relations dimensions. It is our hope that this issue can inspire further reflections on the utility of demilitarisation.

    Kjell-Åke Nordquist, editor-in-chief

  • Journal of Autonomy and Security Studies: Constitutions as Conflict Management - Focus Africa
    Vol. 5 No. 2 (2021)

    The fundamental structure of lawmaking in states is, almost by definition, a set of rules that should not be up for conflict or revision as a recurrent theme of national politics. The role of the constitution is to play this particular role of an unquestioned guide to national power management.

    While constitutions themselves vary significantly in terms of size and level of detail – Iceland has a famously short constitution and Brazil a longer and more detailed constitution than most countries – their challenge is to find a design that makes them an accepted supra-layer of rules for lawmaking. When lawmaking is made within expected political horizons, the constitution is the document that sets the limit of those horizons.

    It is a widely accepted view that constitutions should formulate ideas and values that are common for the people and, as a consequence, its state. Views vary, however, when it comes to the next function of a constitution: how much further should a constitution regulate power distribution, accountability, and the decision-making process? In situations of internal conflict, not seldom over the formation of the state itself, such functions are critical to the very sustainability of the constitution, should it not be another issue of contestation in times to come.

    In this issue of Journal of Autonomy and Security Studies we are given the opportunity to reflect on the role and function of constitutions, and thereby of fundamental state structures, in situations of tension, (mis)management, and challenging power aspirations. The articles themselves reveal a set of wider issues – wider than the article format allows for – which we may bring further into a more general reflection on state formation principles. In this way, this issue of JASS, for all its content and relevance for specific empirical situations, brings us further into matters that deserve treatment in their own right – such as how constitutions relate to a history of conflict and disaster, an experience so common among states today.

    Kjell-Åke Nordquist