Political Settlements Programme Launches

We are delighted to announce this innovative new research programme on Political Settlements, with a focus on fragile and conflict affected states.  Political settlements can be broadly defined as the underlying political ‘bargain’ that determines how political and socio-economic power is held and exercised.   This website will operate as a virtual learning forum for our activities and research results.

The research programme involves a new academic-practitioner, North-South Consortium of organisations, led by the University of Edinburgh’s Global Justice Academy (GJA) and has been awarded a research contract (£4.4 million) from the Department for International Development (DFID) to explore political settlements in fragile and conflict affected states.

The consortium members are: GJA, University of Edinburgh; Conciliation Resources; Rift Valley Institute; Institute for Security Studies; and the Transitional Justice Institute, Ulster University.

This exciting four-year project will look at how political settlements work in different countries, and the ways in which they can be enable forms of inclusion beyond political elites.

A key objective of the programme is to inform more effective national and international development policies in and on fragile and conflict-affected states. Ultimately the research aims to support people to build more stable and effective institutions, reduce poverty, and prevent violence.  The consortium’s expertise provides an opportunity to look at how peace processes and peace agreements intersect with political settlements, and so promote more integrated conflict resolution, peacebuilding and development strategies.

Christine Bell, Programme Director, Global Justice Academy:

We are really honoured to have been awarded this programme.  We are delighted to be working with consortium partners that bring together strong experience and renown in working innovatively to address conflict resolution, peace-building and gender inclusion.  We hope to harness the power and expertise of these organisations to address the critical dilemma at the heart of this programme: how to reconcile the need for agreement between politico-military leaders if violent conflict is to end, with the need to meet people’s broader inclusion, equality and justice demands if long term peace and development is to be meaningful and sustained.

Zahbia Yousuf, Peacebuilding Editor and Analyst, Conciliation Resources:

We are delighted to be working with the University of Edinburgh as part of a global consortium.  The term ‘political settlements’ has grabbed recent policy interest. Yet there is still a degree of uncertainty as to what it means in practice. This is a great opportunity to contribute to and shape current and future discussions on the topic, and bring perspectives based on real practice to a discussion which has been largely academic to date.

Rory O’Connell, Director, Transitional Justice Institute, Ulster University:

TJI is very pleased to be a partner on this political settlement programme.  We bring a deep and sustained expertise on the importance of engaging and supporting women in a variety of contexts, and this exciting new partnership sustains and deepens that engagement in Northern Ireland and beyond.

John Ryle, Executive Director, Rift Valley Institute:

The Rift Valley Institute (RVI) is happy to be part of the DFID-funded research programme on political settlements in conflict-affected states. The aim of the RVI is to advance useful knowledge of the Eastern and Central African region and its diverse communities, bringing a better understanding of local realities to bear on social and political action. This partnership, formed to investigate the reality of how political order is shaped and maintained in so-called ‘fragile’ states, is an opportunity for field-based research to inform policy in Africa and beyond.

Jakkie Cilliers, Executive Director, Institute for Security Studies:

The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) is delighted to partner with the University of Edinburgh and the other consortium members on the political settlements programme. So far, little or no empirical work has been undertaken to measure or quantify if there is any link between a durable political settlement and improvements in human development, including security. We are confident that we will produce pertinent insight in this regard.