Political Power-Sharing brings rival parties into unity governments and is often used as a way of resolving conflict by redistributing power. We show how political power-sharing works to include some groups but can sometimes exclude other, non-dominant groups.
enforced executive coalitions
forms of communal veto
proportionality in other political and legal institutions
segmental autonomy (for example different educational systems for different groups)
Political power-sharing agreements can be temporary – enabling power to be shared in interim transitional government arrangements until elections take place; or indefinite – intended to provide for the political accommodation of groups in a new constitutional settlement.
If an agreement has any mention of power-sharing in the nation-wide institutions of central government through inclusion of the particular groups or parties.
If the peace agreement includes any mention of power-sharing at the level of a unit within the state, be it federal, local, or municipal or community.
Example: Northern Ireland
If the agreement includes any mention of power-sharing at both the level of the state as well as at a federal, local or community level.
Entrenching the divisions at the heart of the conflict by translating it into new political institutions
Focusing on an elite pact, to the exclusion of any social contract
The central challenge is to ensure that the power-sharing arrangements do not operate only as an ‘elite pact’ but have capacity to evolve to a more inclusive social contract.
Some agreements are between those with high rank in politics or the military with an understanding that the success of the peace process relies on their decisions alone.
Many processes are based on an understanding that conflict is not simply a result of the decisions of elites, but because of the relationship between those in power and the wider population. A social contract approach aims to improve this relationship.
Where power-sharing is focused on bringing armed actors into an interim transitional arrangement, these actors need to retain some hope of having access to power post-transition if they are to be incentivised to ‘complete’ the transition.
Burundi, Burundian Constitution of 18 March 2005.
TITLE III: Of the System of Political Parties, Article 78:
In their organisation and their functioning the political parties must respond to democratic principles. They must be opened to all Burundians, and their national character must also be reflected at the level of their leadership [direction]. They may not advocate violence, exclusion, and hatred in any of their forms, notably those based on ethnic, regional, religious or gender affiliation.
Good Friday Agreement (GFA) or Belfast Agreement:
“69. Noting that there is not at present consensus on a Bill of rights, the parties commit to serving the people of Northern Ireland equally, and to act in accordance with the obligations on government to promote equality and respect and to prevent discrimination; to promote a culture of tolerance, mutual respect and mutual understanding at every level of society, including initiatives to facilitate and encourage shared and integrated education and housing, social inclusion, and in particular community development and the advancement of women in public life; and to promote the interests of the whole community towards the goals of reconciliation and economic renewal.”
See publications at: www.politicalsettlements.org/publications-database
In particular Bell, C. (2018). Accessing Political Power: Women and Political Power-Sharing in Peace Processes (Gender Briefing Series). New York City: UN Women, PA-X (2018). Peace Agreements Database and Access Tool, Version 1. Political Settlements Research Programme, The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh. www.peaceagreements.org