Forging Inclusive Political Settlement for Sustainable Peace

Blue Sky

 

The Imperative of Inclusiveness

Conflict affected, and fragile states often struggle with breaking the fragility trap. The way out from this fragility trap is usually found in an inclusive political process, providing the platform and opportunities for settling core political grievance through inclusive dialogue, compromise and consensus.

The key to stabilizing fragile and conflict affected countries is to build preventive mechanisms and capacity at national level. These preventive mechanisms should be enabled to provide the political moderation and accountability to resolve political differences and disputes through non-violent manner. Public debates on public matters with focus on providing the opportunities to the most vulnerable and excluded groups should be a key element in these national mechanisms.

At the Institute for Effective Governance and Stabilization, we have a firm conviction on the important role the political system can play in preventing violent conflicts. We do this by building and enabling an inclusive political governance, at the national level that provides the opportunities for inclusive debate on how issues that affect the trust between society and state should be resolved.

 

The Will and Commitment

Public grievance originating from poor governance, discrimination, political and economic exclusions is a key driver of conflict in many fragile and conflict affected countries. Reaching to the tipping point, it makes the state implode, resulting in protracted conflict and destabilization, making developmental gains in reverse.

Public Grievance largely stems from ineffective political system that governs the relations between the public and their duty-bearers. Addressing public grievance requires inclusive political settlement and a contract between the state and society, in which the state is bound by law to meet the rights and expectations of its citizens.

Resolving or preventing violent conflicts through political settlement essentially means forming an inclusive governance system that involve uprooting embedded power imbalances that may have caused conflict, enabling the participation of marginalized populations in political processes, and holding free and fair elections when conditions are favorable.

 

To prevent conflicts through inclusive political settlement, it is important to employ an integrated mix of supply and demand side strategies to mobilize the necessary political will. Each strategy should seek to shift the incentives of decision-makers towards delivering inclusive and representative governance processes, reducing the power imbalance. The possibility for impact depends on critical political economy assumptions regarding the political space for reform and the motivation of different stakeholders in charge of the change process as well as leadership commitment at national level. Furthermore, donors, the UN and other international actors can play a very crucial role in mobilizing the political will to forge inclusive political settlement. Conflicts today do not respect borders and they have spill-over affects at regional and international levels. The international community has a clear stake to influence governments in fragile and conflict affected states to put together long-term strategy for inclusive political settlement.

Policymakers and politicians respond to international cues about desirable practice, and they use domestic policy to signal intentions and improve their reputations abroad. By defining and spreading inclusive peace settlement as an international norm, the rewards and support available to fragile and conflict affected countries increase. The influence of external actors is crucial in this process.

 

It is important to support governments in fragile and conflict affected settings to develop the expertise and skills needed to implement effective political moderation and accountability and respond to citizen expectations. Along with sector expertise, the focus should be on mainstreaming guidance on achieving transparency, accountability and multi-stakeholder dialogue in the technical assistance.

The Mechanism for Dialogue and Accountability

It is important to strengthen the demand for inclusive political settlement by providing parliamentarians, journalists and civil society with the specialized information and skills needed to monitor and advocate for sustainable peace. Oversight and pressure from these actors increases the rewards associated with good policymaking and the costs of its abandonment, protecting gains when political dispensations change. It is important that governments in fragile and conflict affected settings provide an enabling environment that allows CSOS, media, parliaments and other non-state actors to influence policies and advocate for addressing the root causes of conflict and fragility.

In building national mechanism for dialogue and political accountability, it is important to address the problems of exclusion and discrimination that drive violent conflict. Inclusive peace settlements mean providing effective opportunities for the marginalized segment of the population to participate in the political and governance affairs of the state.

 

National mechanisms such as all parties-councils or Loya Jirgas (the case of Afghanistan) can forge national consensus towards addressing the drivers of conflict. It is important to effectively moderate these mechanisms so that different views and interests are accommodated in the decisions and policies and that patronage relations are reduced. It is also important that these mechanisms promote issues-based politics and not identity-based politics.