It has often been asserted, at least outside the United States, that federalism is the best instrument for protecting the rights of minorities. Countries throughout the world have adopted federal or quasi-federal arrangements, typically including a system of subnational constitutions, in order to accommodate racial, ethnic, cultural, or religious minorities within their borders. Examples can be found in Europe (e.g., Switzerland and Spain), in Africa (e.g., Ethiopia), in Asia (e.g., India), and in North America (e.g., Canada). Still other federal systems such as Australia, Brazil, Germany, and the United States have component units whose borders were not drawn to accommodate minority groups, but these countries still must deal with issues of pluralism and diversity. Finally, systems emerging from authoritarian rule (e.g., Nigeria and Russia) have experimented with federal arrangements as a way to deal with ethnic and cultural pluralism.
Thus far, however, rigorous single-system analyses of the connection between minority rights on the one hand and federalism and subnational constitutionalism on the other have been rare. The lack of such studies has precluded meaningful cross-country comparisons. In addition, no comprehensive analysis exists of how federalism and subnatio