This paper presents some of the options available to conflict mediators when confronted with the challenges of accommodating diverse interests and identities. It recognises that there is no one model for any given situation and that no two institutional designs are identical. No two federal systems or autonomy models share exactly the same ingredients.

Most countries adopt hybrid institutions, which combine aspects of various models. For the purposes of understanding options, however, the paper presents four categories of institutional arrangements:

  • Federalism
  • Autonomy
  • Decentralisation
  • Power-sharing

The goal is to identify the key components of the above options, the differences between them, and the circumstances in which they are likely to be adopted. The paper also presents some evidence regarding the effectiveness of the above institutions in accommodating diversity, while also preserving the territorial integrity of the state.