A review of the evidence informing DFID's "Building Peaceful States and Societies" practice paper. Paper 1: Political Settlements, Peace Settlements, and Inclusion

Abstract

This paper is one of four exploring and analysing the evidence that underpins DFID’s 2010 \"Building Peaceful States and Societies\" Practice Paper, referred to hereafter as the 'PB/SB (Peace-Building/State-Building) framework'. Taking each of the PB/SB framework's four guiding objectives, it appraises and synthesises the cited research evidence in that framework to offer guidance on the degree to which the core concepts and propositions are 'evidence based'. In some cases, it introduces additional evidence to place core concepts in their wider context. The paper was commissioned by DFID’s Fragile States Policy Team, and is intended to contribute to ongoing efforts to refine DFID policy on fragile and conflict-affected states and ensure that it is evidence based.

Although the four key objectives of the PB/SB framework are interdependent, for practical purposes, this series of papers addresses each separately. The current paper considers PB/SB framework Objective 2, \"Support inclusive political settlements and processes.\"

Key Findings
1. The PB/SB framework’s consideration of elites, and their criticality to the political settlement, is based on a substantial body of persuasive research;

  1. A combination of conceptual research and empirical evidence seems to support the claim that peacebuilding and state-building is underpinned by the formation of inclusive political settlements, where the political settlement refers to the elite bargains at its heart;

  2. The evidence relating to the ability of non-elites (i.e. wider society) to shape the political settlement is typically more empirical, but also more mixed. Based on the research surveyed, non-elites’ capacity to change political settlements is uncertain. Even so, the PB/SB displays sufficient caution in its treatment of state-society relations to be adjudged as being consistent with the contested nature of the research evidence on this issue;

  3. The PB/SB fails to adequately consider the historical process of institutional change in its treatment of political settlements. Greater understanding of this process is required in order to appreciate why wider society’s inclusion in the political settlement is often so difficult to achieve;

  4. Whilst this study suggests that many of the core components of the PB/SB framework are based on research findings, the framework is generally inadequately supported by footnotes and references demonstrating exactly which research evidence underpins particular concepts;

  5. The adoption of an evidence grading tool in order to assess the quality of research papers has been partially successful. The tool has helped identify research findings which are clearly empirical from those that are not, and has enabled the differentiation of good empirical papers from weaker ones. On the other hand, the validity of a significant body of non-empirical political science studies which informed the PB/SB, and which the current study adjudges to be useful, cannot be demonstrated by the evidence grading tool used. Further consideration of how to assess the quality of political science research is required.

Citation

Evans, W. A review of the evidence informing DFID’s "Building Peaceful States and Societies" practice paper. Paper 1: Political Settlements, Peace Settlements, and Inclusion. DFID, London, UK (2012) 28 pp.

A review of the evidence informing DFID’s “Building Peaceful States and Societies” practice paper. Paper 1: Political Settlements, Peace Settlements, and Inclusion

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