Unsettling Bargains? Power-sharing and the Inclusion of Women in Peace Negotiations


This research report considers the relationship between power-sharing arrangements in peace agreements and equality of women in public life. In particular it examines: asserted tensions between power-sharing and equality for women; and whether these tensions are born out in peace agreement provision. The report indicates that: Power-sharing remains attractive as a conflict-resolution tool because it offers a technique of power-splitting, politically, territorially and militarily, which is capable of providing a compromise for parties engaged in violent conflict. These ‘elite pacts’ have the potential to stabilise political conflict by opening up the central governance arrangements and making them more inclusive. On the other hand, they also have the potential to leave untouched (or make worse) other forms of exclusion, notably that of women. Power-sharing arrangements therefore have to be engaged with by women and those seeking women’s equality in peace processes. Power-sharing arrangements also find some root in group-based approaches to equality rights standards which focus on equality of outcome – a focus that also supports provision for ‘special temporary measures’ for women, for example in the form of legislative quotas, and the idea of UNSC Resolution 1325 that peace processes should include ‘a gender perspective’ also points to the need to use processes and peace agreements to advance equality outcomes for women.

The full report, and an executive summary, are both available for download.


Bell, C. Unsettling Bargains? Power-sharing and the Inclusion of Women in Peace Negotiations. Political Settlements Research Programme (PSRP), Edinburgh, UK (2015) 57 pp.

Published 1 January 2015