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Constitutional Exceptions: Comparative Politics in New Caledonia and Northern Ireland

Exceptions constitutionnelles : politiques comparées en Irlande du Nord et en Nouvelle Calédonie
Yann Bévant

Abstracts

Though the Caledonian and Irish experiences are widely different, common features call for investigation. In both cases, the question of State allegiance remains a major issue, connected as it is with a colonial past, with cultural, linguistic identities and above all with the sense of belonging or not to one or the other nation. In both cases it is becoming a matter of emergency to find new compromises, in New Caledonia in the wake of the referenda on self-determination, and in Northern Ireland, as Brexit represents a threat to the whole process that led to peaceful politics.

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Introduction

  • 1 The UC was the result of a merger and was led by Maurice Lenormand, Armand Ohlen and Rock Pidjot. T (...)
  • 2 David Chappell, Le réveil Kanak. La montée du nationalisme en Nouvelle Calédonie, Nouméa, PUNC, 201 (...)
  • 3 France officially claimed sovereignty over New Caledonia on 24 September 1853.
  • 4 Robert Bertram, « Le foncier et le culturel, vecteurs de la formation d'une conscience indépendanti (...)
  • 5 Matignon is the official residence and office of the French Prime Minister, Oudinot was the officia (...)
  • 6 Stéphanie Graff, «Quand combat et revendication kanak ou politique de l'État français manient indép (...)
  • 7 Julien Lacabanne, La démocratie consociative - Forces et faiblesses du multiculturalisme, Paris, Pe (...)

1Despite major differences, the New Caledonian experience bears some resemblance to that of Northern Ireland. In both cases, fundamental issues revolve around the legitimacy of a territorial claim, the process of decolonisation, and above all the sense of belonging of the communities. Though the time lapses in the periods of colonisation and linguistic, cultural and religious contemporary realities are not comparable, interesting common features stand out. In Ireland the early manifestations in favour of autonomy and later of independence can be traced back to the 17th and 18th centuries, and the influence of the Anglo-Irish ascendancy and of Presbyterians is undeniable with men like James Molyneux, Henry Grattan, Henry Joy Mc Cracken, James Napper Tandy and Theobald Wolfe Tone. In other words, the colonial elites were instrumental in forging the early notion of Irish nationhood. This trend can also be observed in New Caledonia as the emergence of the Union Calédonienne in 1953 owes much to settlers such as Maurice Lenormand and Armand Ohlen1. The early Union Calédonienne advocated autonomy and was successful, so much so that it can be considered at the root of the emergence of a Caledonian national feeling. The ‘Kanak awakening’2 of the late 1960s and the centralised nature of the Gaullist 5th Republic contradicted the development of the rising national sentiment. Kanak nationalism pushed a majority of settlers to side with the Metropolis, just like the rise of Catholic nationalism contributed to estrange a majority of Protestants from the idea of Irish autonomy, not to mention independence. Besides, territory has also been a source of conflict in both the Caledonian and the Irish cases. After the autonomy and later independence of a 26 counties Southern Ireland, the territorial claim on the 6 counties forming Northern Ireland remained a permanent source of tension between nationalists and unionists. In New Caledonia the consequences of the eviction of Melanesian tribes after 18533 are still felt, all the more since in Kanak culture and tradition tribe and territory are one. In both cases the management of and sovereignty over the territory became inseparable from the perception of national identity. The border between North and South became a crucial issue in Ireland, while in New Caledonia decolonisation meant for Kanak nationalists decolonisation of their people that would automatically entail decolonisation of their territory4. Eventually after 30 years of conflict in Northern Ireland the Good Friday Agreement was given overwhelming approval in 1998 through referenda thus putting an end to “the Troubles” and bringing back peace in Northern Ireland. In November 1988 a referendum held in France approved the Matignon-Oudinot Agreement5 and put an end to several years of civil strife in New Caledonia known as les évènements. In accordance with the principles of the UN charter6, the 1988 agreement provisioned a referendum of self-determination, which was postponed to 2018 by a new agreement reached in 1998. In both cases the constitutional arrangements entailed the creation of devolved, power-sharing institutions based on consociational principles.7

2The first part of this paper shall focus on the situation created by the 2018 referendum in New Caledonia, and the political impact of Brexit on Northern Ireland shall be examined in the second part. For practical purposes this paper will refer to the pro-independence/pro-reunification movements as nationalists and to the anti-independence/anti-reunification movements as loyalists.

Constitutional arrangements in New Caledonia and the 2018 referendum

3New Caledonia has a very specific status in the constitutional framework of the French Republic. It is a sui generis territory with wide devolved powers comparable to a certain extent to those of the former British Dominions. These powers are enshrined in the provisions of Act n° 99-209 entitled “Loi organique du 19 mars 1999 relative à la Nouvelle-Calédonie”, and it is the only overseas territory enjoying a special status provided not only by the 1999 organic Act, but also by section 13 of the French constitution. This section entitled “Dispositions transitoires relatives à la Nouvelle Calédonie” (provisional arrangements related to New Caledonia), defines in its articles 76 and 77 the conditions under which a referendum on self-determination should be organised in New Caledonia, and it sets out organic law as the means of organising devolution of powers.

4This exception to the rule, given the centralised nature of the French State, recalls the previous status of the former British Dominions before the Statute of Westminster freed them from the control of the Imperial Parliament in 1931. Local parliaments had authority over their jurisdictions, so long as their legislation was not overruled by the Imperial Parliament. This feature can be compared to the provisions found in article 77 :

  • 8 la loi organique […] détermine les règles d’organisation et de fonctionnement des institutions de l (...)

Organic law […] determines the rules of proceeding and functioning of New Caledonian institutions, more particularly the conditions under which certain categories of bills passed by the Caledonian Congress could be subject to review by the Constitutional Council before becoming Acts.8

  • 9 And with the State Council in charge of verifying the conformity of proceedings. Several elections (...)

5Organic Law” determines the rules for the organisation and running of the New Caledonian institutions, and more particularly the conditions under which certain categories of bills are submitted to the control of the French Constitutional Council (Conseil Constitutionnel) before they are enacted. In this regard, the ultimate say does not rest with the French Parliament but with the Constitutional Council, which acts as the guardian of the French written constitution and guarantees its integrity on the totality of the jurisdiction of the French Republic, including autonomous Overseas Territories9. This provision has led to a consistent jurisprudence according to which local legislation cannot contradict the French constitution. However, Section 13 gives much more control and authority to the local Caledonian Parliament called Congress than the British Dominions ever enjoyed before 1931. It gives organic law the power to shape not only the political structure and daily running of New Caledonia as well as electoral and citizenship arrangements, but also the nature and scope of devolution of powers from the French State to the Caledonian authorities. In other words, the State acknowledges the right of New Caledonia’s representative institutions to determine how far they want to go in terms of autonomy and self-determination.

  • 10 Overseas Territories.

6Section 13 of the French Constitution and Act 99-209 both owe much to the provisions regarding the general organisation of the French ‘Territoires d’Outre-Mer’10, and to a political process set out in the Matignon-Oudinot and Noumea agreements of 1988 and 1998, and derived from the tensions which led to violent conflict between loyalists and nationalists in the 1980s.

  • 11 Stéphanie Graff, Ibid.

7The 1988 and 1998 agreements provided for a new organisation of the territory based on power sharing between the Loyalist and Nationalist traditions, and for the possibility of self-determination (under the auspices of the UN Charter11).

8On 4 November 2018, a first referendum on self-determination was held in New Caledonia, as the agreements provided for the possibility of holding three referenda12. This event came as the culmination of a 30-year old political process that had started in the 1980s ; it was at the same time long awaited and feared by many given the potential consequences of the vote, whatever the outcome could be. When the agreements providing for the referendum in 2008 and then 2018 at the latest were signed, such an outcome as the culmination of the process of reconciliation was in fact a way of satisfying both nationalists and loyalists as they would have an opportunity of achieving a final settlement in conformity with their ultimate wish. Yet, the agreement between Nationalists and Loyalists was more about the nature of their disagreement than about a political compromise on the future of New Caledonia. Giving time to time, to use President Mitterrand’s famous sentence13, was a way of bringing back stability. The aim was to heal the wounds of the present and of the past in order to facilitate reconciliation and to try and build a common future for all the communities living in the archipelago. This provisional solution, though it restored peace between the communities, left the main bone of contention unaffected. If the 1988 and 1998 agreements can be seen as the will expressed by nationalists, loyalists and the French State to achieve a peaceful settlement, and if legislation passed was consistent with the agreements and left the future open, they did not address the fundamental question of the future constitutional status of New Caledonia. Through the peace process nationalists hoped that they would rally a majority of the Caledonian people to their cause and hence be in a position to build a sovereign nation based on the decolonisation of the Kanak people and on the integration of the other communities living mainly in the southern part of the mainland14. The process of devolution on the other hand, satisfied Loyalists who considered that the large autonomy granted to New Caledonia would at the same time lead to the decolonisation of the territory, which had been suspended during the Gaullist era, without jeopardising the French status of the archipelago. “Aller aux confins de l’autonomie15 (“to go to the outer reaches of autonomy”) to quote Pierre Frogier, one of the loyalist signatories of the 1998 agreement, was the ultimate acceptable limit to loyalists. One can see here a major contradiction that surfaced during the debates on the referendum in 2018 : nationalists talked about the decolonisation of a people whose right to self-determination is inalienable and imprescriptible, loyalists talked about the decolonisation of a territory shared by several communities whose equal rights and interests are guaranteed by their inclusion in the French Republic. Under this light decolonisation without independence is not contradictory. This is why the posture of the French State as an ‘honest broker’ becomes quite difficult to maintain, as many official speeches delivered by French statesmen, from Michel Rocard who was the architect of the 1988 agreement to President Macron in 2018, have espoused this analysis.16

  • 17 « Goa called the referendum a “question of dignity”, saying: “As long as a single Kanak person is s (...)

9Under such auspices, it should not come as a surprise that the response of Nationalists had radical undertones. Louis Kotra Uregei and the Parti Travailliste campaigned in favour of abstention in the referendum, claiming it was a trick to deprive the Kanak people of their natural right to self-determination. Daniel Goa, the president of the Union Calédonienne (the main component of the FLNKS, the pro-independence umbrella organisation) made it clear that an outcome unfavourable to independence in the referenda would not extinguish the nationalist claim, and independence would then be negotiated directly with the French State under the aegis of the United Nations.17

10Hence, the referendum was at the same time long-awaited and feared, as it was clear that it would clarify the debate by putting the central question to the fore, and it was feared as memories of past violence and division between the communities were revived. Obviously, the referendum on self-determination was bound to polarise viewpoints, and liable to unleash the most vociferous claims. Indeed the debate was polarised, but though the yes versus no vote comforted the notion that two blocks were confronting each other mainly on an ethnic basis and that nothing had really changed in 30 years, a more detailed analysis of the situation is required.

11Announced in the evening of polling day, the result was 56.4 % for maintaining the status quo and 43.6 % in favour of independence. The turnout was 81 % of the 174,995 voters eligible to vote in this referendum, as the special electoral roll defined by the 1998 Noumea Accord was restricted to natives and long term residents so as to maintain balance.18

12The question for the referendum was : Voulez-vous que la Nouvelle-Calédonie accède à la pleine souveraineté et devienne indépendante ? “Do you want New Caledonia to attain full sovereignty and become independent ?”

Choice

Votes

 %

For

60, 573

43.6

Against

78, 361

56.4

Invalid/blank votes

2, 165

Total

141, 099

100

Registered voters/turnout

174, 995

80.6

Source : Government of New Caledonia

13A first comment is that a number of expectations proved unjustified. Polls had predicted a large victory of the “no” vote, which prompted right-wing loyalist leaders such as Sonia Backès and Pierre Frogier to demand that no further referendum be held as it would be unnecessary and detrimental to economic stability. Given the much tighter result than expected, their demand was irrelevant and turned down by the French government, all the more since it would have breached the Agreement and the prerogatives of the Caledonian Congress. The triumphant attitudes displayed by some prominent right wing loyalists before the referendum contributed to transform what was technically a victory into a psychological defeat once the results were published. On the loyalist side Philippe Gomes, the leader of the loyalist party Calédonie Ensemble had warned that a 70 % no vote would not be representative of the real strength of the nationalist movement, despite the heavy criticism of right wing loyalist parties accusing him and Calédonie Ensemble of frolicking with nationalists. He was proved correct.

14The situation in 2018 was a clear departure from the previous and first referendum on independence held on 13 September 1987. Independence was rejected by a large majority, with 842 people (1.7 %) voting for independence and 48, 611 people (98.3 %) voting for New Caledonia to remain a part of France. But the turnout was very low compared to 2018, as only 59.10 % of enrolled voters participated : the Kanak and Socialist National Liberation Front (FLNKS) boycotted the vote. On the contrary, in 2018 the FLNKS campaigned very effectively in favour of the yes vote, and the result showed at the same time its decisive influence and the lack of support for Uregei’s abstention policy. The result, given the negative polls before the referendum, galvanised FLNKS supporters and activists with the feeling that victory was near, in a psychological effect exactly opposite to loyalists’ feelings.

15The zero sum game created by the referendum must also be considered in the light of the balance of strength between the various parties inside each block. What the result also revealed is the weakness of the most uncompromising attitudes on both sides. The result also opened up competition within each block for the provincial elections in May 2019, as minds remained focused on the balance of strength in the perspective of the next referendum. It was clear that nationalists would gain enough seats to trigger a second referendum within the next two years and then a third referendum if necessary, so the question was : what were the perspectives if the same question was put to the voters of the special electoral roll ?

16Beyond the constitutional question lies the perception of one’s own national identity. If Caledonians from all walks of life and from all shades of the political spectrum have no problem with their Caledonian citizenship, attitudes diverge when it comes to their passport. It may be argued that practical considerations are at stake, because the protection and opportunities offered by French nationality are likely to outweigh those of a nation of less than 400, 000 inhabitants living on an archipelago of 11, 000 square miles. Whether such considerations are relevant or not must not hide the fact that the sense of belonging plays a crucial part not only in the process of reconciliation, but also in the possibility of a shared national identity. Caledonians agree on Caledonian citizenship because it defines and protects their specificity. They disagree on national identity because of conflicting views as to what France means to them in terms of past history, and therefore in terms of the future of their country. For some the dual identity is their natural and legitimate heritage, for others French nationality is a colonial burden. This is evidenced by attitudes displayed on the status of Kanak Common Law. To put it bluntly, loyalists agree on citizenship because it gives them a special place in the French Republic, nationalists see citizenship as the final stage before full-fledge nationality. In spite of the French president’s claims that the third and last referendum held on 12 December 2021 settled the issue of self-determination, the actual results and boycott organised by the FLNKS contradict this one-sided perception. If turnout was 96.50 % against independence, only 43.87 % of all the voters on the special electoral roll actually cast their vote.

17All in all, only 75,720 voters said no to independence out of a list of 174,15419.

18A 51/49 vote can be divisive in France, the best example being probably the 1974 presidential election won by Valéry Giscard D’Estaing with the narrowest of margins. Yet the tight result did not challenge the existence of France as a nation and the perception most of the French had of their own national identity. This is not the case in divided societies such as New Caledonia where people are divided on the nature of their own national identity, and therefore divided on the notion of State allegiance. This is where the comparison with the old Irish question and its contemporary avatar in Northern Ireland, comes into play.

Northern Ireland and Brexit

  • 20 William Molyneux, The Case of Ireland being bound by Acts of Parliament in England, Stated. With a (...)
  • 21 This status, as a matter of fact, is still a matter of debate. See Timothy J. White, “The Impact of (...)
  • 22 Robert Kee, Ireland, a History, London, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 2003
  • 23 Jonathan Bardon, A History of Ulster, Belfast, Blackstaff, 2005, pp. 538-9.
  • 24 Alexandra Slaby, Histoire de l’Irlande de 1912 à nos jours, Paris, Taillandier, 2016.
  • 25 The referendum was held in March 1973 to determine whether people in Northern Ireland favoured reun (...)
  • 26 Christophe Gillissen, Une relation unique: les relations irlando-britanniques de 1921 à 2001, Caen, (...)

19The seeds of modern Irish nationalism were sown by members of the Anglo-Irish and Scottish-Irish Protestant minority who ran the country in the late 17th century and in the 18th century. What they initially sought was a much greater degree of autonomy from London, more particularly in terms of trade regulations, as William Molyneux’s 1698 pamphlet “The Case of Ireland being bound by Acts of Parliament in England, stated” illustrates.20 To prove that Ireland was a nation in its own right equal to England and Scotland, Irish Protestant intellectuals developed a whole corpus of writings on the glorious Irish past. Their aim was to make the Irish colony21 the fourth British nation alongside Scotland, Wales and England. Persisting religious discrimination and considerable social inequalities coupled with the influence of the French Revolution led to the emergence of a Republican Nationalist movement at the end of the 18th century and to the rise of Irish Catholic Nationalism in the first part of the 19th century under the influence of Daniel O’Connell. The divide created by the Act of Union and the industrial revolution between a largely agrarian south dominated by Catholics and an industrial north east dominated by Protestants froze the national debate along sectarian lines.22 Pitt – the British Prime Minister – had hoped that the Act of Union would settle the Irish question through the integration of the colony into a larger multinational State. Direct rule from London on the contrary reinforced the colonial nature of the relationship. Catholic emancipation in 1829 and the Home Rule campaigns in the 19th century frightened the Protestant minority who feared to be overwhelmed by a Catholic majority if autonomy was granted to Ireland. Unionism/Loyalism in Ireland was born in the 19th century, out of conflicting economic interests and a diverging sense of national identity crystallised on religious denominations. Present day Northern Ireland is the heritage of those irreconcilable perceptions, which led to violent conflict and to partition of the island between an autonomous and later full-fledge independent state in the South, and a British North with devolved institutions. Yet partition did not solve the national question as the South maintained a territorial claim on the North in its 1937 Constitution, and the Catholic minority in the North was discriminated against by what Lord Craigavon called “a Protestant Parliament and a Protestant State for a Protestant people23”, thus contributing to foster a siege mentality inherited from the 17th century. The uncompromising attitudes and the brutality which came as a response to the rise of the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s led to civil unrest and to the emergence of paramilitary groups on both sides, the most important being the Provisional IRA. Violence led to the demise of the Northern Irish devolved institutions and to the restoration of direct rule from London in 1972. As a result Northern Ireland experienced 30 years of conflict which totalled over 3, 000 casualties and more than 43, 000 wounded and maimed people, out an overall population of about 1.5 million living on a territory of 9,300 square miles24. The failed tentative to establish a power sharing administration with the Sunningdale Agreement in 1973-1974 and the failed referendum of 197325 revealed that no lasting settlement was possible without taking into account all the layers of the conflict. This implied three strands : a North-South Irish dimension, a British-Irish dimension, and of course a nationalist-loyalist Northern Irish dimension. This in turn, implied that there should be no exclusion from the negotiation table. This pre-condition was met in the 1990s under the favourable conditions created by the end of the cold war. The end of apartheid in South Africa provided a peaceful example of conflict resolution. Then US commitment, the conversion of the Republican movement to representative and parliamentary politics through its party Sinn Fein26, the more conciliatory attitudes of the British government, Tony Blair’s large parliamentary majority which gave him a free hand, were vital ingredients in the Peace Process. Last but not least, the influence of European Community and European Union policies in terms of economic integration, largely made the border irrelevant.

20The Good Friday Agreement was signed in 1998. The agreement opened the way for the creation of consociational power-sharing institutions in the North. The constitution of the Irish Republic was altered in order to drop the territorial claim on the North. In return the British State acknowledged that sovereignty over the North was based on the consent of the Northern Irish population and that if a referendum produced a majority in favour of reunification, the British Parliament would legislate accordingly provided the Irish State also approved the change. Intergovernmental conferences were also created to address the British-Irish and Irish-Northern Irish dimensions. The Agreement was approved by referendum on both sides of the border with solid majorities of 94 % in the South and 71 % in the North.27

21To make a long story short, compromise was made possible by the favourable conditions of the 1990s including the involvement of the US administration seen by both sides as an “honest broker”28, by economic integration, by the acknowledgement of the legitimacy of all identities. The large success in the 1998 referenda is explained not only by the fact that the Irish, North and South, had grown weary of the conflict. It is also explained by major ideological and economic changes29. The border issue which had been one of the causes of the civil war in the 1920s and which had remained a key issue in British –Irish and nationalist-loyalist relations, was becoming irrelevant because of the process of European economic integration.30

22The twenty five years of peace enjoyed by Northern Ireland do not mean that all problems are solved. Several crises led to temporary suspension of the power-sharing executive, but the most serious of them all is today the Brexit crisis, which has brought back the border issue to the fore. The referendum over membership of the European Union triggered by David Cameron gave a clear majority to the “Leave” side in the UK. This, together with the fall of the Cameron government, led to a series of parliamentary and government crises in Britain, to the end of British membership of the EU in January 2020 and as a consequence to the reestablishment of an international border in Ireland, the Republic being part of the EU. Such a situation was economically harmful to the EU and Britain, and to both sides of the Irish border, as the economic fabrics of North and South had become interwoven and interdependent as a result of years of European integration.31 Besides, it was feared that the reintroduction of the North-South border could revive the most sinister memories of the past century and jeopardise the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. The negative effects of Brexit became a serious concern for Brussels, London, Dublin and Belfast who to tried to limit them. Yet this has proved to be a most difficult task to achieve, as the contradiction between an economically united Ireland under EU regulations clashed with protests that such a prospect would be Irish reunification in all but name and a breach to the integrity and sovereignty of the UK. To make things even more intricate, Northern Ireland gave a 56 % turnout in favour of Remain in the Brexit vote32. This vote contradicts the line of the main loyalist party, the DUP, which campaigned in favour of Brexit. Consequently, loyalists put the pressure on Teresa May who desperately needed their support in Parliament after the disastrous result of her 2017 snap general election. After Boris Johnson secured a large parliamentary majority, compromise was reached and in January 2020 the withdrawal agreement was signed, together with the Northern Ireland/Ireland protocol33. According to the EU, the protocol is a tool designed to avoid a “hard” border in Ireland.

[the Protocol]takes into account the unique circumstances on the island of Ireland. It was agreed between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK) and the European Union (EU) as a stable and lasting solution designed to protect the all-island economy, and the Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement in all its dimensions, and to safeguard the integrity of the EU single market.34

23In practice, Northern Ireland remains part of the UK customs territory and is subject to a set of EU rules relating to the single market for goods and the customs union. The protocol introduces a system of checks and controls for goods arriving in Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK or any other third country. These goods are subject to EU customs duties unless there is no risk of them entering the EU. The arrangement also referred to as the Irish Sea border ensures that there are no checks and controls between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, thus avoiding the establishment of a physical border and ensuring the free movement of goods under the rules of the EU customs union.

24Loyalists have been staunchly opposed to the Protocol on Northern Ireland because they consider that its content questions Northern Ireland’s membership of the UK, and threatens to destroy the Union. The analysis was shared by British conservative hardline Brexiters who saw it as a breach of sovereignty. Consequently, in the following months the British government showed a clear will to act unilaterally with little consideration for the international treaty signed with the European Union. The protocol was never fully implemented and was held responsible for supply difficulties in Northern Ireland. The EU launched legal action against the UK, and even US president Biden warned the British that nothing should threaten the arrangements born from the Peace process. The new PM appointed in October 2022, Rishi Sunak, tried to overcome tensions through new negotiations with the EU. This led to a new practical arrangement, the Windsor Framework, reached in February 2023. The Framework significantly reduces customs controls on goods coming from Britain to Northern Ireland. It also creates a "brake" made available to the Northern Ireland Assembly, and inspired by provisions in the Good Friday Agreement : if 30 MPs from different parties object to the implementation of a new European piece of legislation on goods in the Province, they can call a vote to block it. This mechanism, however, is part of the protocol and leaves intact the European Court of Justice's final say on single market rules still in force in Northern Ireland. This point has remained a bone of contention.

25The DUP left Stormont35 in February 2022 in protest at the Irish Sea Border and refused to return until the checks on goods agreed with the EU in the Windsor Framework - a renegotiation of the original Brexit deal- were scrapped. Tensions between nationalists and loyalists led to the suspension of the power-sharing administration and assembly with no prospect of a negotiated settlement in sight for the last couple of years. The political stalemate has had social repercussions. In December 2023 the British government offered £600m for public sector pay claims as part of a £3.3bn financial package for Northern Ireland, but made it conditional on the restoration of a devolved administration, as only a local power-sharing government had the authority to disburse the pay rises. The DUP accused the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Chris Heaton-Harris, of blackmailing the party, and claimed that the NIO should disburse the money, At the beginning of 2024 this conflict led to the biggest public sector strike since 1974, with an estimated 150,000 workers representing approximately 80 % of public sector staff joining the 24-hour action on 17 January.36 The coordinated day of protest followed months of separate strikes by individual unions and underscored growing anger over crumbling public services. Yet workers on strike directed their frustration at the Secretary of State, not at the DUP, as Union leaders’ declarations epitomised. Craig Gill declared : “He wants to use us as a political battering ram. I think today will help him realise that public sector workers are not willing to be used.” 37while Gerry Murphy told the Belfast rally that “[the] obstacle is Heaton-Harris and his refusal to accept reality and his continuing to pursue a failed political strategy […]. This fight continues until we win – and we will win.”38 Michelle O’Neill, Sinn Féin’s deputy leader, seized the opportunity and told the BBC : “ I can only hope that Jeffrey Donaldson is listening and hears the plight of the workers and, even at this late juncture, makes the right call and joins with the rest of us around that executive table and let us do our best to try and support these workers.”39. As a result, Sinn Fein submitted a motion to recall Stormont with the expected support of the SDLP and Alliance :

We, the undersigned, give notice to the Speaker, under Standing Order 11, that the Assembly should meet urgently to elect a Speaker and Deputy Speakers ; to appoint a First Minister and deputy First Minister and all other Executive Ministers ; and to debate the following motion.

  • 40 Ibid.

That this Assembly endorses the demand for fair pay settlements for public sector workers ; urges the DUP to respect the democratic outcome of the May 2022 Assembly election ; and emphasises the pressing need to urgently reinstate the Executive to tackle the unprecedented challenges confronting citizens and our public services, particularly the immediate matter of public sector pay40

26Today loyalists no longer have an overall majority in the Northern Irish Assembly. Parties favouring continuance of the protocol won 53 of the 90 seats in the 2022 election. In spite of the election results, polls indicate that there is today no majority on both sides of the border in favour of a united Ireland41. Though Sinn Fein has become the main opposition party in the South, its success was built on bread and butter issues, not on a campaign in favour of reunification. Yet recent declarations from prominent members of the Irish government reinforce the feeling that such an option remains on the table,42 and therefore not so remote a prospect if Sinn Fein wins the next general election. Loyalist fears of a referendum on reunification are real, and are probably the major reason at work beyond the hostility to the protocol and the reluctance to accept a Sinn Fein premiership in a renewed consociational government. This, at the time of writing this article, is becoming a source of great crisis within the DUP. Recent talks between the British government and the DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson led the DUP executive to reconsider its boycott policy. Donaldson had been adamant that the seven protocol tests put forward by the DUP43 had to be met through legislation before any return to Stormont could be contemplated. It is difficult to see how loyalist demands could be satisfied without damaging the integrity of the UK-EU protocol. In recent articles Marie-Claire Considère Charon and Aurélien Antoine have examined the Windsor Framework and the deal with the DUP negotiated by the British Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak44. This arrangement has brought a number of technical alterations to the protocol which have been considered satisfactory by the DUP leadership. Yet dissident voices such as Sammy Wilson’s have also emerged, and whether DUP grassroots accept the notion that the Windsor Framework is now an acceptable compromise remains to be seen.

  • 45 Sinn Fein won 144 seats as compared with 105 seats in the previous election, and polled 230,793 vot (...)
  • 46 The DUP has been spurred by TUV and loyalist blogger Jamie Bryson who at the time of writing this a (...)
  • 47 If polls are correct the conservative party is set to do badly in Britain, therefore Northern Irish (...)

27Quite clearly the DUP and hardline loyalists have cornered themselves by focusing the debate on the protocol. They have transformed a negotiated practical arrangement into a matter of principle on sovereignty and a test for the future status of Northern Ireland. Given the balance of strength in the Northern Irish assembly, there is every reason to think that they cannot rely on a majority in Stormont, and they will have to put up with a Sinn Fein Premiership. Maintaining the boycott would however have left the door open to a new assembly election, and the results of the 2023 local elections were far from encouraging : for the first time nationalist parties gathered a greater share of the vote than loyalist parties, with an impressive 7.7 swing in favour of Sinn Fein45. The strategy followed by the DUP and hardline loyalist groups46 appears therefore highly hazardous ; there seems to be no good solution and a defeat on the protocol or its consequences would now appear as a major setback for the loyalist cause. Last but not least, time is running out as a general election is due to take place in 2024 in the UK, with inevitable repercussions in Northern Ireland47. How the DUP fares will be a crash test of its actual influence and of the influence of loyalist hardliners.

Conclusion

28The Caledonian and Irish experiences are different and yet they share a complex post-colonial present. The question of State allegiance remains a major issue in both cases, and this issue is connected with a colonial past, with diverging cultural, linguistic identities and above all with the sense of belonging or not to one or the other nation. In turn, the nation cannot be separated from the territory on which it exercises its jurisdiction, and in both cases territorial claims have been a source of conflict. In both cases again the possibility of referenda on self-determination in a near future was a way of settling the dispute. To nationalists the referendum would give the people the power to recover full fledge sovereignty over the territory in the New Caledonian case, and in the Irish case to put an end to partition. From a loyalist perspective, the referendum was in both cases a means of hammering the last nail in the coffin of nationalist hopes. This approach explains the loyalist overconfident expectations and serious disappointment in New Caledonia in November 2018, and loyalist fears in Northern Ireland in the aftermath of Brexit and of the Northern Irish assembly votes in 2017 and 2022, confirmed by the 2023 local elections results.

29In New Caledonia, the 2018 referendum showed that the perception of national identity remains unresolved and conflictual and as a result that the nature of the decolonising process remains questionable.

30In Northern Ireland the question of the legitimate territory of the nation became less of an issue in the years accompanying the peace process as the border grew invisible. The Caledonian contradiction between decolonisation of a territory versus decolonisation of a people did not operate in the Irish situation, until Brexit reopened the case.

31Obviously, this is walking on the thin edge, and much rests on the balance of strength that has come out of the Assembly election in Northern Ireland in 2022, and out of the last provincial and Congressional elections in New Caledonia. Contrary to Northern Ireland, the assembly and the executive did not collapse in New Caledonia, and they have continued to work on a consociational basis, however uneasy it may be at times. In New Caledonia power sharing survived the crash test of the referenda on self-determination, while post-Brexit trade arrangements have proved a major stumbling block for the DUP, as well as a convenient excuse for refusing to participate in a government of the North under Sinn Fein’s premiership for the first time ever since the creation of Northern Ireland. This boycott led to a temporary restoration of Direct Rule from the Northern Ireland Office, yet the British government have no intention of recentralising devolved powers, as a result only the daily running of the local administration was assured with the consequence that public wages and investments were frozen in a time of growing inflation, thus generating considerable frustration and anger.

32In New Caledonia the results of the second and more particularly of the third referenda confirmed the analysis that no long-term solution could proceed from a divisive vote splitting the population in two comparable voting forces, in spite of the claims made by the French president that this last vote was a success. In spite of the tensions that have affected relations between the communities since 2020, the power-sharing institutions have stood the test of time. However if it is now difficult if not impossible for the French State to claim a status of “honest broker” and the ultimate outcome appears uncertain. Negotiations on how to proceed forward remain on the agenda so long as nationalists consider they leave their ultimate goal attainable, which could very well no longer be the case with the pending electoral reform and the opening of the electoral rolls to new French residents.

  • 48 Gordon Gillespie, “The origins of the Ulster Workers' Council Strike: Structure and Tactics”, pp.12 (...)

33In Northern Ireland the stand of the DUP and of hardline loyalists was difficult to sustain in the long run. Two elements are worth being noted. The first is that the DUP was not held responsible for the predicament faced by public services and civil servants. The caution of the trade unions can be explained by the fact that criticism of the DUP could be seen as a political move liable to destroy unity among workers. Targeting the British government and Chris Heaton Harris was a safer option. Yet it is also noticeable that the 18 January 2024 strike met with unprecedented support in Northern Ireland. The only comparable action was the general strike staged by the self-proclaimed Ulster Workers Council that paralysed the Province between 15 and 28 May 1974 and brought down the then power-sharing executive and the Sunningdale Agreement. The contrast between both actions is quite sharp. While the loyalist grip on industrial action was obvious in 1974,48 in 2024 Trade Unions clearly maintained a neutral stand and concentrated on the fight for pay parity. This has left the door open for other parties to criticise the DUP and push for a restoration of the power sharing administration.

34The most recent developments tend to indicate that Northern Irish loyalism finds itself in an impasse in its fight against the EU-UK protocol, and gives the upper hand to Sinn Fein while a general election is due to take place in 2024 in the UK. If it is confirmed, the crisis experienced by loyalism may well lead at least to a change of leadership in the DUP, at most to further splits between hardline loyalists and moderates tempted to switch allegiance to the UUP and the Alliance. Whether this situation creates more tension will very much depend on the level of support loyalist hardliners will be able to achieve in 2024.

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Bibliography

Antoine, Aurélien, « L’accord de Windsor : une sortie de crise pérenne ? » in , https://brexit.hypotheses.org/6576 consulted 8 April 2024.

Bardon, Jonathan, A History of Ulster, Belfast, Blackstaff, 2005.

Bertram, Robert, « Le foncier et le culturel, vecteurs de la formation d'une conscience indépendantiste en Nouvelle-Calédonie », in J.-Y. Faberon, A. Hage et alii, Mondes océaniens : études en l'honneur de Paul de Dekker, éd. L'Harmattan, coll. « Mondes océaniens », 2010.

Bévant, Yann, “Some Aspects of the Social and Political Consequences of EC Economic Involvement in Northern Ireland”, Études Irlandaises, vol. 18, 1993, pp. 93-112.

Bévant, Yann, Identity and Territory. Reflections on Ideological Issuesin Filippova, E..,Ivanovna, E., Amelin, V., Bévant, Y.,et al.. Us and Others : Epistemological Revision of the Perception of Identities in Europe. Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, Russian Academy of Sciences, Мoscow, 2019. pp. 51-68.

Bévant, Yann, « La transformation idéologique du mouvement républicain irlandais à la fin du 20ème siècle », in Paroles et Pouvoir 2. Enjeux politiques et identitaires, Collection Interférences, Rennes, PUR, 2005, pp. 149-165.

Chappell, David, Le réveil Kanak. La montée du nationalisme en Nouvelle Calédonie, Nouméa, PUNC, 2017.

Considère-Charon, Marie-Claire, « Rishi Sunak et l’art du compromis : Quelques réflexions sur le sens et la portée du ‘’Cadre de Windsor’’«  in https://brexit.hypotheses.org/6576 consulted 8 April 2024.

Considère-Charon, Marie-Claire, « Irlande du Nord, un nouvel accord pour mettre fin à l’impasse politique », in https://brexit.hypotheses.org/7429 consulted 8 April 2024.

Gillespie, Gordon, “The origins of the Ulster Workers' Council Strike : Structure and Tactics”, Etudes Irlandaises 29-1, 2004, pp. 129-144.

Gillissen, Christophe, Une relation unique : les relations irlando-britanniques de 1921 à 2001, Caen, Presses Universitaires de Caen, 2005.

Graff, Stéphanie, « Quand combat et revendication kanak ou politique de l'État français manient indépendance, décolonisation, autodétermination et autochtonie en Nouvelle-Calédonie » in Journal de la Société des Océanistes, Société des Océanistes, 30 juin 2012, pp. 61-83.

Kurtovich, Ismet, Aux origines du FLNKS, L'UNIALCO et l'AICLF (1946-1953), Nouméa, Île de Lumière, 1997.

Les Nouvelles Calédoniennes, 26 October 2009.

Lyons, Kate, “New Caledonia referendum: call to reject ‘colonising power’ France.” The Guardian. 17 July 2018. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jul/17/new-caledonia-referendum-call-to-reject-colonising-power-france consulted 23 January 2024.

Maillot, Agnès IRA. Les républicains irlandais, Caen, Presses Universitaires de Caen, 2001 (2e éd.).

McCann Fiona, Mourlon, Fabrice, Le conflit nord-irlandais : vers une paix inachevée ? (1969-2007), Paris, Atlande, (Clés-Concours), 2023.

Molyneux, William. The Case of Ireland being bound by Acts of Parliament in England, Stated. With a new Preface. London : J. Almon, 1770. https://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/1769 consulted 08 March 2019.

Kee, Robert, Ireland, a History, London, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 2003.

Slaby, Alexandra, Histoire de l’Irlande de 1912 à nos jours, Paris, Taillandier, 2016.

White, Timothy J., “The Impact of British Colonialism on Irish Catholicism and National Identity : Repression, Reemergence, and Divergence”, in Etudes Irlandaises, 35-1, 2010, pp. 21-37.

Webography

https://www.ark.ac.uk/elections/fref98.htm consulted 23 January 2024.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/politics/eu_referendum/results consulted 19 December 2024

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-northern-ireland-61363246 consulted 30 January 2024

https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/business/uk-world/biggest-strike-in-nis-recent-history-under-way-as-tens-of-thousands-walk-out/a2063420876.html consulted 30 January 2024

Constitution du 4 octobre 1958 Titre XIII : Dispositions transitoires relatives à la Nouvelle-Calédonie (Articles 76 à 77)

Titre XIII – Dispositions transitoires relatives à la Nouvelle-Calédonie | La Constitution décodée (constitutiondecodee.fr) consulted 20 January 2024. https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/policies/eu-relations-with-the-united-kingdom/the-eu-uk-withdrawal-agreement/the-protocol-on-ireland-and-northern-ireland-explained/ Consulted 25 January 2024

https://doi.org/10.4000/jso.6647 consulted 19 December 2023

https://www.elections-nc.fr/les-listes-electorales consulted 19 December 2023

https://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/jorf/id/JORFTEXT000000555817 consulted 8 April 2024

https://www.interieur.gouv.fr/actualites/actualites-du-ministere/3e-referendum-dautodetermination-en-nouvelle-caledonie consulted 26 January 2024

https://www.irishtimes.com/politics/oireachtas/2023/09/07/taoiseach-says-he-believes-there-will-be-a-united-ireland-in-his-lifetime/ consulted 29 January 2024

https://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/1769 consulted 08/03/2019

https://outremers360.com/politique/lentretien-politique-tant-quil-restera-un-kanak-la-revendication-independantiste-restera-presente-affirme-daniel-goa consulted 30 January 2024

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2024/jan/18/public-sector-workers-24-hour-strike-northern-ireland, consulted 24 January 2024.

Polls

ARINS/ The Irish Times, November 2023. https://www.ria.ie/news/arins-analysis-and-research-ireland-north-and-south/north-and-south-what-we-know-now-and-what consulted 30 January 2024

The Institute of Irish Studies/Social Market Research, June 2023 and October-November 2023. https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/humanities-and-social-sciences/research/projects/voting-identity/ consulted 29 January 2024

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Appendix

Voting summary

Voting summary

Source: BBC

Seats summary

Seats summary

Source : BBC

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Notes

1 The UC was the result of a merger and was led by Maurice Lenormand, Armand Ohlen and Rock Pidjot. The party slogan was “two colours, one people”. Ismet Kurtovich, Aux origines du FLNKS, L'UNIALCO et l'AICLF (1946-1953), Nouméa, 1997, Île de Lumière, 1997.

2 David Chappell, Le réveil Kanak. La montée du nationalisme en Nouvelle Calédonie, Nouméa, PUNC, 2017. The Kanak people is an indigenous Melanesian people of Austronesian origin. The name Kanak (changed into Canaque in French) comes from Hawaiian origin and was used indiscriminately by European colonisers to talk about Oceanian indigenous people, in spite of the fact that it has no root in Melanesian languages. In 1984, indigenous nationalist leaders had the spelling Kanak adopted as an alternative to the French spelling associated with colonisation and racial prejudice. Note that the word does not inflect in French

3 France officially claimed sovereignty over New Caledonia on 24 September 1853.

4 Robert Bertram, « Le foncier et le culturel, vecteurs de la formation d'une conscience indépendantiste en Nouvelle-Calédonie », in J.-Y. Faberon, A. Hage et alii, Mondes océaniens: études en l'honneur de Paul de Dekker, éd. L'Harmattan, coll. Mondes océaniens , 2010.

5 Matignon is the official residence and office of the French Prime Minister, Oudinot was the official residence and office of the Secretary of State for Overseas Territories. The Agreement was first signed on 26 June 1988 in Matignon and completed on 20 August 1988 in Oudinot.

6 Stéphanie Graff, «Quand combat et revendication kanak ou politique de l'État français manient indépendance, décolonisation, autodétermination et autochtonie en Nouvelle-Calédonie » pp.61-83 in Journal de la Société des Océanistes, 30 juin 2012. https://doi.org/10.4000/jso.6647 consulted 19 December 2023.

7 Julien Lacabanne, La démocratie consociative - Forces et faiblesses du multiculturalisme, Paris, Persée, 2016. Initially a concept inherited from political sciences and researchers such as Arendt Lijphart, consociationalism has recently extended to the judicial sphere.

8 la loi organique […] détermine les règles d’organisation et de fonctionnement des institutions de la Nouvelle-Calédonie et notamment les conditions dans lesquelles certaines catégories d’actes de l’assemblée délibérante de la Nouvelle-Calédonie pourront être soumises avant publication au contrôle du Conseil constitutionnel Constitution du 4 octobre 1958 Titre XIII : Dispositions transitoires relatives à la Nouvelle-Calédonie (Articles 76 à 77)

9 And with the State Council in charge of verifying the conformity of proceedings. Several elections were declared void in the 2000s by the Council because of irregularities in the proceedings and new elections had to be organised as a result, as was the case in 2009 (May and December) in the Provincial elections held in the Loyalty Islands, or in 2011 in Congress.

10 Overseas Territories.

11 Stéphanie Graff, Ibid.

12 Under the terms of the Nouméa Agreement, eligible voters had the opportunity to cast their ballot again in case of a no vote in 2020 and in 2022 if one third of the Congress of New Caledonia – the local legislature – agreed to allow those votes to be held. The French government broke its pledge not to mix Caledonian politics and French elections and organised the last referendum in December 2021 despite Kanak protests..

13 https://www.mitterrand.org/de-quelques-formules-de-ou-sur.html consulted 8 April 2024. The sentence is inspired by Cervantes (Don Quixote, Book 2)

14 See map p.5.

15 P. Frédière, « La solution selon Pierre Frogier », Les Nouvelles Calédoniennes, 26 October2009

16 This line is all the more difficult to maintain today as Sonia Backès, the loyalist leader, became a member of the French government headed by Elisabeth Borne, thus abolishing for the first time the distinction made between the French government and Caledonian loyalism.

17 « Goa called the referendum a “question of dignity”, saying: “As long as a single Kanak person is standing, he will fight for his freedom. That should tell you the importance of this day, and the symbolism of this referendum” ». https://outremers360.com/politique/lentretien-politique-tant-quil-restera-un-kanak-la-revendication-independantiste-restera-presente-affirme-daniel-goa consulted 30 January 2024.

18 https://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/jorf/id/JORFTEXT000000555817 consulted 8 April 2024.

19 https://www.interieur.gouv.fr/actualites/actualites-du-ministere/3e-referendum-dautodetermination-en-nouvelle-caledonie Consulted 26 January 2024
https://www.elections-nc.fr/les-listes-electorales accessed 19 December 2023.

20 William Molyneux, The Case of Ireland being bound by Acts of Parliament in England, Stated. With a new Preface. London: J. Almon, 1770. https://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/1769 Accessed 08/03/2019

21 This status, as a matter of fact, is still a matter of debate. See Timothy J. White, “The Impact of British Colonialism on Irish Catholicism and National Identity: Repression, Reemergence, and Divergence” in Etudes Irlandaises, 35-1, 2010, pp.21-37.

22 Robert Kee, Ireland, a History, London, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 2003

23 Jonathan Bardon, A History of Ulster, Belfast, Blackstaff, 2005, pp. 538-9.

24 Alexandra Slaby, Histoire de l’Irlande de 1912 à nos jours, Paris, Taillandier, 2016.

25 The referendum was held in March 1973 to determine whether people in Northern Ireland favoured reunification or the status quo. The so-called “Border Poll” was boycotted by Nationalists and resulted in an inconclusive victory for remaining in the UK. 98.9 percent voted to remain in the UK but the voter turnout was 58.7 percent.

26 Christophe Gillissen, Une relation unique: les relations irlando-britanniques de 1921 à 2001, Caen, Presses Universitaires de Caen, 2005. 

27 https://www.ark.ac.uk/elections/fref98.htm, consulted 23 January 2024.

28 https://www.ireland.ie/en/dfa/role-policies/northern-ireland/about-the-good-friday-agreement/ accessed 8 April 2024

29 Agnès Maillot, IRA. Les républicains irlandais, Caen, Presses Universitaires de Caen, 2001 (2e éd.).
Yann Bévant, “Identity and Territory. Reflections on Ideological Issues” in Filippova, E..,Ivanovna, E., Amelin, V., Bévant, Y.,et al.. Us and Others: Epistemological Revision of the Perception of Identities in Europe. Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, Russian Academy of Sciences, Мoscow, 2019. Pp. 51-68.
« La transformation idéologique du mouvement républicain irlandais à la fin du 20ème siècle », in Paroles et Pouvoir 2. Enjeux politiques et identitaires, Collection Interférences, Rennes, PUR,2005 , pp.149-165

30 Yann Bévant, Some Aspects of the Social and Political Consequences of EC Economic Involvement in Northern Ireland, Études Irlandaises, 18:1, 1993, pp.93-112

31 Yann Bévant, Ibid.

32 https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/politics/eu_referendum/results consulted 19 December 2024.

33 Which became effective on 1 January 2021, thus opening the way to the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement, signed on 30 December 2020, applied provisionally as of 1 January 2021 and entered into force on 1 May 2021.

34 https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/policies/eu-relations-with-the-united-kingdom/the-eu-uk-withdrawal-agreement/the-protocol-on-ireland-and-northern-ireland-explained/ accessed 25 January 2024

35 The name given to the Northern Irish Parliament, as its buildings are located in the Stormont estate in Belfast

36 The Belfast Telegraph, 18 January 2024

37 Craig Gill is Unite’s lead representative at Belfast City hospital, Gerry Murphy is assistant general secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions. https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/business/uk-world/biggest-strike-in-nis-recent-history-under-way-as-tens-of-thousands-walk-out/a2063420876.html consulted 30 January 2024

38 https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2024/jan/18/public-sector-workers-24-hour-strike-northern-ireland, consulted 24 January 2024.

39 Ibid.

40 Ibid.

41 ARINS/ The Irish Times, November 2023, The Institute of Irish Studies/Social Market Research, June 2023 and October-November 2023

42 https://www.irishtimes.com/politics/oireachtas/2023/09/07/taoiseach-says-he-believes-there-will-be-a-united-ireland-in-his-lifetime/ consulted 29 January 2024

43 See Appendix.

44 Aurélien Antoine and Marie Claire Considère Charon, « La nouvelle mouture du Protocole nord-irlandais : points de vue juridique et politique », https://brexit.hypotheses.org/6576 consulted 8 April 2024

45 Sinn Fein won 144 seats as compared with 105 seats in the previous election, and polled 230,793 votes representing 30.9% of voters.

46 The DUP has been spurred by TUV and loyalist blogger Jamie Bryson who at the time of writing this article accused Donaldson of betrayal.

47 If polls are correct the conservative party is set to do badly in Britain, therefore Northern Irish loyalists may lose some of their most vocal supporters in Britain and have to deal with a labour administration less inclined to show sympathy and patience.

48 Gordon Gillespie, “The origins of the Ulster Workers' Council Strike: Structure and Tactics”, pp.129-144, Etudes Irlandaises 29-1, 2004.

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References

Electronic reference

Yann Bévant, “Constitutional Exceptions: Comparative Politics in New Caledonia and Northern Ireland”Revue Française de Civilisation Britannique [Online], XXIX-2 | 2024, Online since 10 May 2024, connection on 18 June 2024. URL: http://journals.openedition.org/rfcb/11947

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About the author

Yann Bévant

Laboratoire CELTIC-BLM, Université Rennes 2

Yann Bévant is associate professor in English-speaking studies at the Université Rennes2. He was Vice president of the English Studies section of the National Council of Universities from 2011 to 2019, and Dean of the schools of English and Applied Languages at the University of New Caledonia from 2017 to 2021, where he also founded and headed the multidisciplinary research unit TROCA (TRajectoires d’OCéAnie/ Oceanian Trajectories). His most recent research encompasses comparative studies on minority or minoritized languages and societies and intercommunal conflicts.

Yann Bévant est Maître de Conférences en études anglophones à l’Université Rennes2. Il a été vice-président de la section 11 du Conseil National des Universités de 2011 à 2019, et directeur des sections d’anglais et de LEA de l’université de la Nouvelle Calédonie de 2017 à 2021. Pendant cette période il a également fondé et dirigé l’équipe de recherche pluridisciplinaire TROCA (Trajectoires d’OCéAnie). Ses recherches récentes portent sur les langues et cultures minoritaires ou minorisées et sur les conflits intercommunautaires.

By this author

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The text only may be used under licence CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. All other elements (illustrations, imported files) are “All rights reserved”, unless otherwise stated.

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