Category Archives: Conflict and Security
Almost whenever you read anything about fragile states, the introduction notes that, ‘no low-income fragile or conflict-affected country has yet to achieve a single United Nations Millennium Development Goal’. This is a quote from the overview from the 2011 World Development Report on conflict, security and development. It seems to be an elaboration of a quote from the main body of the report that is subtly but importantly different. ‘No low-income, fragile state has achieved a single MDG, and few are expected to meet targets by 2015.’ (more…)
The below are excerpts from an article originally appearing in World Politics Review.
The conditions for revolt or revolution to spread throughout society are reasonably well established: First, the national government must be closed to broad participation or popular control. Second, the government must be weakened by some sort of crisis. This crisis may be a material one, such as a military or development failure, fiscal distress, sustained inflation or sharp spikes in food prices. Or the crisis may be ideological, as when a government seeks to impose an ideology that is widely opposed by its own elites, or when a government is seen as compromised by identification with foreign enemies. Or it may be a succession crisis that leads elites to shift allegiances and contend for power in a coming leadership change. Several of these items may combine to create a widespread sense of uncertainty and anxiety about the future.
In such periods of social anxiety, a great deal depends on which groups are willing to support the regime and which groups still perceive the leadership as legitimate. Governments that are perceived as just and effective generally retain the support of key elites and thus popular groups; they are therefore quite resistant in the face of . . . challenges. On the other hand, states that are widely considered ineffective or unjust by their population rapidly lose key supporters and can succumb with astounding quickness in the face of challenges — as in the Philippines in 1986, the Soviet Union in 1989 and Tunisia and Egypt in 2010-2011. (more…)
How useful is the concept of political settlement? Not very, according to a recent post by Mick Moore over on the Institute of Development Studies’ Governance and Development blog. Taking particular issue with the lack of consensus regarding definition, Mick questions the legitimacy of the concept, closing with a somewhat pessimistic evaluation of its added value.
To be sure, definitions of political settlement abound, and while many are simply variants revolving around a core theme, others are most certainly competing. To quickly caricature what I see as the biggest ‘battle’ in this war of definitions: political settlement as arrangement of political power vs. political settlement as outcome of a peace process. In these circumstances, confusion is inevitable.
But I disagree with Mick in his assessment of how far the concept of political settlement takes us. As documented by DFID’s Will Evans, recent years have seen the development of a sophisticated understanding of what political settlements are about, shifting from a narrow focus on ‘bargains’ and ‘pacts’ between elites to a broader consideration of the way in which organisational and political power is organised, maintained and exercised (who is included, what are the conditions that determine in/exclusion?). And, despite the multiplicity of definitions, Will identifies a number of ‘common points’, including: (more…)