The Åland Example as Norm Entrepreneurship

in International Journal on Minority and Group Rights
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The Åland Example has generated considerable international attention as a successful solution to a complicated ethno-territorial dispute. This article looks at how it has been used as a basis for norm entrepreneurship by political actors in both Åland and Finland. For Åland itself, the Åland Example provides normative capital that is used to influence domestic politics. As such, the article shows how norm entrepreneurship may provide a useful political device for a minority or an autonomous region as it strives to preserve or develop its status and identity vis-à-vis the majority and host country. Herein the case of the Åland Example also shows how norms are a strategic asset that can be used for different political purposes and how this may create conflicting agendas between domestic interests with a stake in the international advocacy of the norm. For Finland, the Åland Example provides a potential asset when constructing its foreign policy profile. Yet, it has been used relatively sparingly as such a brand-enhancing device in Finnish foreign policy. The article finds two main reasons for this. First, being a minority solution, it does not generate the sort of emotional attachment that would get Finnish policy-makers to invest in its full potential. As such, it is being somewhat ignored. Second, from the perspective of state diplomacy, the Åland Example has its drawbacks. Under some circumstances, visibly marketing it can do more harm than good for Finnish diplomacy, which is why Finnish foreign policy-makers choose to tread carefully with promoting the Åland Example. The article thus provides a glimpse of the partly overlapping, partly conflicting agendas between majority and minority actors in their international advocacy of norms.

The Åland Example as Norm Entrepreneurship

in International Journal on Minority and Group Rights



  • 6)

    Kontaktgruppensupra note 3.

  • 11)

    Björkdahlsupra note 4; A. Björkdahl ‘Norm advocacy: A small state strategy to influence the EU’ 15:1 Journal of European Public Policy (2008) pp. 135–154; M. Finnemore and K. Sikkink ‘International Norm Dynamics and Political Change’ 52:4 International Organization (1998) pp. 887–917; M. Finnemore and K. Sikkink ‘Taking Stock: The Constructivist Research Program in International Relations and Comparative Politics’ 4 Annual Review of Political Science (2001) pp. 391–416; Ingebritsen supra note 4.

  • 13)

    Björkdahlsupra note 11.

  • 15)

    Finnemore and Sikkink‘Taking Stock’supra note 11.

  • 16)

    Ingebritsensupra note 4 p. 12.

  • 17)

    Finnemore and Sikkink‘International Norm Dynamics’supra note 11 p. 898.

  • 18)

    Björkdahlsupra note 4.

  • 21)

    Björkdahlsupra note 4 p. 540. See also Finnemore and Sikkink ‘International Norm Dynamics’ supra note 11.

  • 28)

    Kontaktgruppensupra note 3.

  • 29)

    Granlundsupra note 7.

  • 31)

    P. Joenniemi‘The Åland Islands: Neither Here nor There’Cooperation and Conflict (forthcoming).

  • 34)

    Granlundsupra note 7.

  • 37)

    Kontaktgruppensupra note 3.

  • 38)

    Pekka Mykkänen‘Suomi-Finland Presents: The Åland Show’Helsingin SanomatInternational Edition 22 March 2005 < +%C3%85land+Show/1101978893069> retrieved 17 October 2012.

  • 40)

    Ministry for Foreign Affairssupra note 5.

  • 50)

    Finnemore and Sikkink‘International Norm Dynamics’supra note 11 p. 893.

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