Tag Archives: political settlement
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…)
Getting rid of dictators is much easier than building a political order to replace them. This is especially true in countries with a limited sense of nationhood, as is the case in much of the Middle East. As a result, the Arab Spring has exposed the fragility of the Arab state.
Libya offers a cautionary tale. Muhammad Gaddafi’s reign has left it with arguably the weakest state institutions in the region, and a very limited sense of nationhood. The country’s tribes remain all-important, and given the armed militias that many now control the National Transitional Council’s (NTC) is going to struggle to exert its authority for an extended period of time. A potentially violent Salafi contingent may complicate matters even more.
As a start, it is important to understand as much as possible the ethnic and tribal divisions that divide the country. (more…)
Despite what many commentators may believe, it is premature to declare Libya a success. As Ed Husain points out on his blog The Arab Street over at CFR.org, armed militias must still be disarmed, the central government is yet to be recognized by the country’s all-important tribes, and an increasingly violent Salafi contingent has yet to be contained.
As the Arab Spring has . . . shown, while getting rid of a dictator may prove relatively straightforward, building a new political order that is grounded in legitimacy and broad-based representation is likely to be much harder. Against a backdrop of great hopes and heightened expectations both within Libya and beyond, it has become clear that the country faces enormous challenges. (more…)